Bengal diamond teams falter at home

May 3, 2014 

It was Black Friday for Blythewood in the Class 4A baseball and softball playoffs.

Playing on adjacent diamonds at home, the Bengals were dispatched to the District 3 loser’s brackets with second-round losses. The baseball team suffered a 5-0 loss to Fort Mill, while the softball squad dropped a 7-5 decision to Clover.

Both teams face elimination games at home on Monday.

Blythewood could do nothing constructive against Fort Mill starter Nick Matchunis. The Yellow Jackets’ junior right-hander allowed just three hits in a 6.1-inning stint on the hill that also featured eight strikeouts.

Matchunis allowed Bengals to reach base in each of the first three innings, but seized command after Justin Lang-Spittler opened the third with an infield single. Matchunis then retired nine in a row and 14 of the next 15 Bengal hitters he faced before tiring in the seventh inning.

Clay Helvey came on to close it out by striking out the only two Bengals he faced.

Fort Mill (16-5) got all the offense it would need in the first inning when it parlayed three hits and two Blythewood errors into two runs. The Yellow Jackets put it away with three unearned runs in the fifth. Jaden Savage (4-2-2-1), Justin Tepper (4-1-2-1) and Jackson Massey (4-0-3-1) - the third, fourth and fifth hitters, respectively, in the lineup - did the bulk of the damage.

Blythewood (18-7) struggled offensively and defensively. The Bengal defense was guilty of four errors, leading to four unearned runs.

Clover put on quite an offensive show in the softball game. The 22-6 Blue Eagles rapped 13 hits, eight for extra bases.

The star was leadoff batter Brittany Rhinehard who went for the cycle. The deft left-hand hitter opened the game with a home run to center field, rapped a run-scoring triple in the second, doubled in the fourth and closed out the scoring in the game with a RBI single in the fifth.

Blythewood (21-6) kept pace for four innings until Clover broke a 5-5 deadlock with two runs in the top of the fifth inning.

Jessica Roth’s two-run home run in the first helped BHS jump to a 3-1 lead. A two-run double by pitcher Katie Chappell in the third evened the count at 5-5, but the Bengals managed just one more hit and no runs the rest of the way.

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