The first time Blythewood ran into Seth Nelson, the Lugoff-Elgin senior right-hander had a dominant performance in a 7-3 win on March 21 that ended the Bengals’ four-year, 34-game region winning streak.
In the rematch on Thursday at Blythewood, the Bengals had their revenge. Nelson was driven from the mound without getting an out in the second inning in what turned out to be a shocking 16-3 Blythewood rout.
“This time (Nelson) kept falling behind in the count, walked some guys and we hit the ball hard a few times,” said Bengal coach Barry Mizzell. “We jumped on them early and that took something out of them.”
The win allowed Blythewood (12-5, 5-2) to take over sole possession of first place in Region 4-3A. The Bengals play on-the-rise Ridge View on Saturday before hosting the South Carolina Diamond Invitational next week.
“This was a big win, but we’re not there just yet,” said Mizzell. “We still have a lot of work to do to get it done. We haven’t proven that we can play well consistently. Maybe tonight, we turned that corner.”
The Bengals took a 1-0 lead in the first inning courtesy of a L-E infield error, and then rang up an eight-spot in the second inning. Blythewood added six more runs in the third and one in the fourth in their final turn at the plate.
The star of the night was senior Drew Ellis, who pitched four innings to pick up the mound win and blasted two home runs, including a grand slam in the third.
“Drew’s been throwing it pretty well, but he’s been struggling badly at the plate,” said Mizzell. “If he can keep it going, it will help us a lot.”
Ellis led off the second inning with a solo shot to right field, and crushed a Colin Teague pitch over the right-center field fence to close out the scoring in the third.
In all, the Bengals stroked nine hits, drew seven walks, had two batters hit by pitches and took advantage of three Lugoff-Elgin errors.
Justin Lang-Spittler followed Ellis in the hit parade with a 3-for-3 game with two RBIs. Connor Grant and Andrew Crook had two hits apiece. Grant had three runs batted in.
Lugoff-Elgin (11-6, 5-3) finds itself in a three-way scramble for second place with Richland Northeast and Ridge View. The Demons have two more region games left after taking part in Camden’s spring break tournament next week.