BHS baseball wins Dist. 4 championship

BLYTHEWOOD – Landon Penfield’s bat was in the right place at the right time Monday. It didn’t hurt that two Spartanburg fielding errors helped the Blythewood first baseman and relief pitcher clear the bases in the fifth inning.

“I just tried to put a good swing on it and score one run,” Penfield said.

Penfield’s 2-out single to right field did enable Luke Duncan’s courtesy runner Ryan Watts to score. Spartanburg struggled with the ball while Bengals were running the bases.

A fielding error enabled Xavier Cuevas, who himself got on base with a Vikings error, round third and score with Penfield gunning for third. Another infield error freed Penfield to race for home.

To complete a 3-run inside-the-park error run.

“I didn’t even see the ball after the third baseman threw it,” Penfield said about scoring the third run. “I just trusted myself and I went.

Those were the only runs Blythewood needed in a 3-2 victory over Spartanburg to capture the District 4 championship.

“That was a relief,” head coach Dolan Crolley said. “We put the barrel on the ball the entire game, and they made some really good plays. We kept putting pressure, putting pressure on them, and something finally went our way.”

The Bengals (20-6) advance to the upper state tournament that kicks off today. They will play host to District 3 champion Boiling Springs. The Bulldogs (17-8) knocked off Rock Hill 4-3 to advance to the upper state championship round.

The winner of the lower state tournament plays the upper state champion in a best-of-3 series for the 5A state championship.

Blythewood, which beat JL Mann 6-2 to open the District 4 tournament May 2, leaned on dramatics Thursday in a walk-off 4-3 win over Hillcrest in eight innings.

Tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the eighth inning, Rams pitcher Damien Benton struck out Harrison Collins, but Luke Duncan reached base on Hillcrest shortstop Elijah Doll’s throwing error, which brought him to second base.

Courtesy runner Ryan Watts replaced Duncan at second. Xavier Cuevas worked the count full, then laced a single into centerfield, which was enough for Watts to round third and score the game-winning run.

Against Spartanburg, the Bengals displayed more heads-up play, first by holding the Vikings scoreless over the first four innings, then by stopping a fifth-inning rally that could have been worse than one run that Blythewood gave up.

And then of course, was the play.

Penfield came to bat and hit a sharp grounder between the first and second baseman into rightfield. Crolley, in the third-base coaching box, watched the play afterward.

“I’m seeing the guy at second base and I see the ball coming towards third and I was telling him to hold up,” Crolley said. “Then I see the ball goes past (third base), and I’m looking at the (third-base-side fence) and the next thing you know I turn back and see Landon already coming to me. He sees it (the ball), and by that time he’s …”

Crolley tailed off in his description of the play, and then added “That was all on them, honestly. The ball got past me and I tried to turn to see and try to make a call, but that was really good baserunning on Landon’s part to keep going.”

The 3-run play that turned out to be the game-winner overshadowed Penfield’s closing effort on the mound.

Penfield came on the mound to start the seventh inning. De’andre Davis opened the inning with a single and made way for courtesy runner Peyton Naylor.

As Tyler Stevenson batted, Naylor took off for second. Catcher Macon Leppert’s throw was well in time but a tad too high for second baseman Cuevas to get the glove down on Naylor for the out.

When the dust cleared, Penfield was looking at a man on second base with nobody out and a one-run lead.

At that point pitching coach Justin Cooper and the team huddled on the mound. When play resumed, Penfield settled in with Stevenson in the batter’s box, then quickly turned and fired the ball to Cuevas, who this time did put the tag on Naylor for the out.

“That right there was a big out,” Crolley said. “Having that guy on and immediately get him out of the way scratched all of their momentum. That was all on Coach Cooper coming out and having a talk with him.”

Stevenson then flied out to leftfielder Camden Watts for the second out.

Carson Weathers closed out the win and the district championship when he caught Joe Cash’s fly ball to centerfield for the third out.

With the Region 3-5A title and now the District 4 championship in hand, the young Bengals are setting the tone for showing everyone what they’re made of.

“One of our goals, with all of those guys graduating last year, and a lot of people thinking that we didn’t have guys this year, was to prove everybody wrong about us,” Crolley said. “They’re doing just that. They’re competing in every freaking game, and it’s their work that they do in practice and in the game, staying in it the whole time.” 

Hillcrest – 2-0-0-0-1-0-0-0 – 3, 8, 2

Blythewood – 0-0-0-0-1-2-0-1 – 4, 5, 0

W: Ben Blackwell

H: Alex LaCoste 3-4. RJ Groomster 2-4. 2B. Hunter Davis 2B. B: Carson Weathers 2-4, HR, 2 RBI. Xavier Cuevas: GWRBI.

Spartanburg – 0-0-0-0-1-1-0 – 2, 4, 4

Blythewood – 0-0-0-0-3-0-X – 3, 6, 3

W: Harrison Collins

S: De’andre Davis 3-3. B: Landon Penfield 2-3.

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