Bengal baseball splits with Flora, readies for postseason on Friday

BLYTHEWOOD – Region 4-5A baseball championship in hand, Blythewood closed out the regular season with a doubleheader against perennial 4A power A.C. Flora Monday night at the Blythewood baseball field.

The Falcons four-hit the Bengals in a 2-1 victory in the first game, but the Bengals found their offense in a 8-3 win in the nightcap.

“They’re really good,” Blythewood head coach Banks Faulkner said of the Falcons. “Our teams are really similar, and that’s why we scheduled it. It would be a really good test for us.”

Blythewood (22-3), which knocked off Rock Hill 9-4 last Wednesday and Spring Valley 13-0 last Friday to finish out Region play 12-0, is the No.1 seed in the 5A upper state District 2 Tournament. The Bengals will play host to J.L. Mann Friday at 7, and play the winner of the Dorman-Nation Ford matchup Monday.

A.C. Flora (22-4), which has won 15 region championships and six state titles in eight appearances under 23-year head coach Andy Hallett, is the No.1 seed in the 4A upper state District 2 tournament and plays host to Westside in its first game.

As the doubleheader went, Blythewood fans saw Bengals pitcher hold down a team that typically scores double-digit runs on everyone else. While the first game fell into the loss column, Kevin Steelman’s effort on the mound, scattering seven hits and striking out six in five innings of work, along with Ben Blackwell’s two innings of 1-hit ball in relief, was a comfort.

Jacob Hardy, Camden Watts and Zac Cowan split time on the mound in the second game, with Hardy coming up with the win. Hardy pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on three hits, striking out two and walking one. Watts pitched 1 2/3 scoreless and hitless innings. Cowan finished up with 1 2/3 innings, giving up a hit and striking out two.

“I’m really, really proud of our pitching staff,” Faulkner said. “That’s as good of a high school lineup that you’ll see. They’re averaging 10-plus runs a game, and so we’re really pleased with how we pitched.”

In the first game, A.C. Flora got a run in the first and Blythewood tied it up when Stephen Lang-Spittler scored on Justin Flemming’s 2-out single.  Landon Penfield followed up with a single and Justin White loaded the bases when he was hit by a pitch, but Cowan struck out to retire the side.

Stranding those three baserunners caught up with the Bengals, as the Falcons scored its only other run in the top of the fourth.

Carew Bates led off with a double, then came home on Geddings’ 1-out single. Ben Gilham grounded out and Stephen West was thrown out on a dropped third strike to end the inning.

“We learned some things about our team,” Faulkner said. “We learned the hard way what happens when you don’t execute, but credit their guys, their pitcher was really good and did a nice job keeping us off balance with his fastball. He made some really good pitches when he had to.”

Grant Loggins worked 5 2/3 innings and got the win. He gave up the only run of the game on four hits and struck out eight. Jack Reynolds and Matthew Crews also saw time on the mound for the Falcons.

In the second game, Blythewood got a quick run in the first—Watson Saunders 2-out double that scored C McCants, who singled—followed by three runs in the third, a run in the sixth, and three more in the top of the seventh to close out the win.

The Bengals started quickly in the third, getting singles from Livingston Weisinger and Cowan. Courtesy runner White, running for Weisinger, got thrown out attempting to steal second as Cowan batted. Once Cowan was on base, he stole second and scored on Ty Dooley’s single to centerfield. Dooley took second on the throw and took third on a throwing error as McCants batted. Dooley scored Blythewood’s third run when McCants reached on a fielding error on his sacrifice bunt.

McCants later scored on Lang-Spittler’s line-drive single to center to make it 4-0 Bengals.

The Falcons got two runs on Max Childress’ 1-out 2-run home run over the centerfield fence that drove in Jake Huggins.

After scoreless fourth and fifth innings, Blythewood took a 5-2 lead without any hits. Watson Saunders led off that inning with a walk, stole second as Spittler batted, moved to third when Spittler grounded out.

Saunders stayed at third when Flemming grounded out shallowly, but broke for home on a wild pitch to Steelman. Steelman eventually grounded out to retire the side.

After A.C. Flora manufactured a run in the bottom of that frame, Blythewood loaded the bases in the top of the seventh and got three runs across.

Dooley’s double to right scored Watts and Hunter, running for Aaron Nevils. Then, with Zach Brown, running for Cowan, at third base and Dooley at second, McCants scored Brown on a sacrifice fly.

Saunders struck out to retire the side, but Cowan took the mound in the final frame and set the Falcons down in order, with two strikeouts and a groundout.

By the end of the night, the Bengals had a list of things to work on before Friday’s game with J.L. Mann. Noting the first game, Faulkner alluded to getting runs across. Blythewood stranded seven baserunners, including a bases-loaded situation in the fourth and two runners on base in the sixth.

“We saw some things early in the first game that we’ve got to do a better job of,” Faulkner said. “There are some things that we take pride ourselves on we weren’t really good at, and it caught up with us. But we go back to work and we’ll be ready for Friday.”


Rock Hill – 0-1-0-0-0-0-3 – 4, 7, 5

Blythewood – 0-0-5-0-0-4-X – 9, 12, 1

WP: Kevin Steelman. LP: Cayden Towel.

Hitters: RH –Wyatt Faulkner 2-2, 2B, 3B. Gage Gaskins 2-2. Cole Canty 2B. B – Alex Nevils 2-3. Zac Cowan 2-4, 2B. Justin Flemming 2-4. Stephen Lang-Spittler 2B.


Blythewood – 0-1-0-0-0-4-8 – 13, 11, 0

Spring Valley – 0-0-0-0-0-0 – 0, 1, 1

WP: Davis Wright. LP: Jones

Hitters: B – Ty Dooley 2-5, 2B, HR. Caleb McCants 2-4. Justin Flemming 2B. Camden Watts 2B. SV – Ravan 2B.

Monday, Game 1

A.C. Flora – 1-0-0-1-0-0-0 – 2, 8, 0

Blythewood – 0-1-0-0-0-0-0 – 1, 4, 1

WP: Loggins. LP: Kevin Steelman

Hitters: F – Daniels 2-3, 2B. Bates 2-3, 2B. Buchan 2B.

Game 2

Blythewood – 1-0-3-0-0-1-3 – 8, 9, 1

A.C. Flora – 0-0-2-0-0-1-0 – 3, 4, 2

WP: Jacob Hardy. LP: West

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]