Redhawks fall to Airport

BLYTHEWOOD – Westwood baseball would have taken on Richland Northeast Tuesday night were it not for the ongoing precautions taken to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus.

On Sunday, Gov. Henry McMaster ordered all South Carolina public schools closed through March 31. Then on Monday, South Carolina High School League officials decided to suspend all athletic activities through April 5.

While not cancelling the entire spring season outright, the League will decide then whether to cancel athletic activities and events for the rest of the spring.

In the meantime, the Redhawks are 0-2 for 2020, coming off a 9-1 loss to White Knoll March 11 and a 17-4 loss in six innings to Airport the next day.

Westwood pitchers walked seven and hit two batters against White Knoll, then walked nine and hit eight batters against the Eagles the next night.

Twenty-six free bases puts the Redhawks in a bad position, first-year head coach Mike McDermott said.

 “So far we’ve had two games and with the amount of free bases we’ve given away, it’s impossible to win a ballgame,” McDermott said after the Airport game. “All those free bases and hits, that’s the damage right there.”

Westwood did not own all the mound troubles in the Airport game.

Airport and Westwood pitchers hit or walked 26 batters on the night, with four Redhawk hurlers accounting for 17 free bases. Three Eagles pitchers walked five and hit four, but the arms had enough to scatter three hits.

Even so, the Redhawks had plenty of baserunners, but stranded eight, including bases-loaded situations in the second and fourth innings.

“The fact is, we’re just not producing at the plate when we have the opportunity, and we’re giving them every opportunity available,” McDermott said. “(In the 9-1 loss to White Knoll) We gave them three free runs in the first inning, and we were behind 3-1 going into the seventh, but pitching gave up six.”

The same scenario crept up against Airport, when the Redhawks surrendered three early runs and never caught up with the Eagles.

Westwood starter Gaines Salvant walked three batters and hit three more in Airport’s 3-run first inning. Salvant left the second after the Eagles loaded the bases with nobody out on an error, a hit batter, and a bunt single.

Micah Connor took the mound in relief of Salvant, but all three runs scored on a sacrifice fly and three straight walks. The Westwood infield picked off two baserunners to end the inning.

Those runs gave Airport a 6-1 lead going into the bottom of the second, with Westwood’s run came on B.J. Williams’ home run over the leftfield fence in the first.

Williams had a chance to close that lead significantly in the bottom of the second. Sightler walked Hayden Caldwell and Donnie Weston, then with two out hit Eddie Olmeda to load the bases for Williams. The wiry Williams slammed the first pitch out to left centerfield—not far from where his first-inning homer sailed—but this fly ball died in the glove of Airport centerfielder Sam LaFrage to retire the side.

The Redhawks did score twice with two out in the bottom of the third, when Colby Linn raced home on a wild pitch, then Dylan Bailey scored on John Janco’s single to centerfield. That frame ended on a Weston groundout.

After Airport scored two runs in the fourth to go up 8-3, D.J. Williams scored for the Redhawks on Jab Bennet’s 2-out single in the bottom of that frame. Westwood loaded the bases again, but Caldwell struck out to strand three more Redhawk baserunners.

Afterward it was all Airport. The Eagles picked up five runs in the fifth inning and four more in the sixth to seal the game on the 10-run mercy rule.

Besides Salvant and Conner, Williams and Olmeda also took the mound for the Eagles. Connor worked 2 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on two hits. He walked three and hit two. Williams came on in the fourth and give up five runs on three hits. He walked two and hit two in addition to striking out three. Olmeda started the sixth and gave up four runs on four hits, striking out two and walking one.

White Knoll – 3-0-0-0-0-0-6 – 9, 9, 2

Westwood – 1-0-0-0-0-0=0 – 1, 5, 2

Hitters: Eddie Olmeda, 2B.

Airport – 3-3-0-2-5-4 – 17, 9, 1

Westwood – 1-0-2-1-0-0 – 4, 3, 2

Hitters: B.J. Williams HR