Bengal baseball off to strong start

BLYTHEWOOD – From the beginning of the 2024 baseball season, Blythewood seems to have picked up right where it left off from last year, despite coaching and personnel changes.

Gone are seven seniors who led the team to the 5A state championship series against River Bluff. Gone also is the team’s interim coach, Dolan Crolley. Crolley filled in for Banks Faulkner, who left after the 2022 season to coach at Newberry College. Crolley was named the 5A Coach of the Year for his efforts, but is now coaching at Lugoff-Elgin.

What isn’t gone is the Bengals’ desire to play solid baseball, and do so under the guidance of a proven head coach. Blythewood takes the field this year under 20-year veteran head coach Travis Poole. Poole won two state championships in North Carolina schools before coming out of retirement to coach the Bengals. Thus far he likes what he sees in Blythewood.

“I’m still learning the kids. I know we don’t have many but we’ve got a great group of young men that work hard and play together,” he said. “They do a good job of going to the plate with a plan and doing what we’re supposed to do in baseball, execute.”

The Bengals opened the season with wins over Dorman, Southside Christian and Dutch Fork before falling 4-0 at Lexington Thursday night.

Blythewood turned the tables on the Wildcats the next night, getting a grand slam home run from Harrison Collins in the third inning and a 3-run shot from Macon Leppert in the fourth to win 10-0 in six innings.

“From what I’ve heard it’s a big rivalry, and I know Lexington has a rich tradition in baseball,” Poole said Friday night. “They’re very, very well coached, very talented players. These guys all know each other and they all compete against each other.”

Blythewood banged out seven hits at Lexington Thursday night, but couldn’t get a run across. Lexington pitchers Brandon Cromer and Wally Bledsoe combined for the shutout, with Cromer pitching five innings, giving up 5 hits and striking out six. Bledsoe pitched the final two inning, gave up two hits and struck out three.

On Friday night it was Blythewood’s turn for a shutout. Sammy Franklin started on the mound for the Bengals. He pitched 2-hit ball for six innings, striking out four and walking two.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the third. Alex Myers and Franklin hit back-to-back singles and Landon Penfield laid down a bunt that brought them to second and third. Lexington’s pitcher intentionally walked Leppert to load the bases for Collins. Collins took strike one then slammed a fly ball over the right-field fence to put the Bengals up 4-0.

Blythewood made it 8-0 on Landon Penfield’s RBI single that scored Amare Counts and Leppert’s 3-run homer with Franklin and Penfield on base.

The Bengals got another run in the fifth inning and it the 10-run mark when Myers drove in Counts. With one out in the sixth.

The Bengals followed up with a 6-5 victory at Fort Mill Monday night in the team’s Region 3-5A opener and played host to the Yellow Jackets Wednesday.

Blythewood concludes the series at Fort Mill Friday.

Blythewood – 0-0-0-0-0-0-0 – 0, 7, 2

Lexington – 0-0-0-0-0-0-X – 4, 9, 0

WP: Brandon Cromer.

B: Alex Myers 2-4. Sammy Franklin 2-4. L: W Burgess 2-3. Brandon Cromer 2-4, 3RBI.

Lexington – 0-0-0-0-0-0 – 0, 2 1

Blythewood – 0-0-4-4-1-1 – 10, 15, 0

WP: Sammy Franklin

B: Harrison Collins 3-4, HR, 5 RBI. Landon Penfield 2-3. Alex Myers 2-3. Sammy Franklin 2-4. Johnny Collins 2-4. Amare Counts 2-4. Macon Leppert HR, 3 RBI.

Fort Mill – 0-0-1-0-0-3-1 – 5, 9, 3

Blythewood – 0-1-3-0-0-2-X – 6, 6, 3

WP: Jackson Bottar

B: Harrison Collins 2B, 3 RBI.

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