Richland Northeast pulled out a wild 8-7 win over Blythewood in a wild Region 4-4A baseball game Tuesday at RNE.
It was the Cavaliers’ first-ever success against Blythewood and former RNE coach Barry Mizzell. More importantly, the decision allowed the Cavs to move into a first-place tie for the Bengals with one region game left.
Thane Maness’ scrappy team (14-7 overall, 6-3 in the region) closes out the regular season Friday at Spring Valley. Blythewood (16-6, 6-3) hosts Ridge View on Friday.
If the Cavs and Bengals finish in a dead heat, Blythewood will be the No. 1 seed with RNE at No. 2.
“No matter how the seeding goes, we’ll take great pride if we come out of it with a co-region championship,” said Maness, who had guided RNE to a 185-151 record since taking over for Mizzell in 2006. “We don’t have anything to celebrate just yet.”
The surging Cavaliers have gone 14-3 since opening the season with a 0-4 showing at the preseason RBI tournament at White Knoll.
“We’ve had good pitching and played pretty solid defense all season,” said Maness. “We don’t have power hitters, so we have to execute small ball and get timely hits to score runs. Lately, we’ve done an excellent job putting pressure on (opposition) teams.”
RNE has also been resilient. The Cavaliers have won eight in a row since dropping back-to-back region games to Blythewood and Ridge View in early April. The run including a 4-0, championship run at the Kershaw Richland Classic wood bat tournament last week.
Blythewood scored two unearned runs in the seventh inning to send the game into extra innings and took the lead in the top of the ninth on a two-run double by Justin Lang-Spittler.
The Cavaliers, however, answered with three runs in the bottom of the ninth to earn a possible title share for the first time in 10 years. Shannon Glover and Harrison Merck delivered run-scoring hits. The decisive run came in after Garrett Loman was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Justin Davidson, Glover and Merck were the offensive stars. Davidson was 3-for-3 with two RBI. Glover was 2-fop-2 with two doubles. Merck drove in two runs.
Elsewhere, Ridge View pulled even with Lugoff-Elgin in third place with a 4-0 win over the Demons on Tuesday behind the stellar pitching of Chris Moody. The senior left-hander fired a no-hitter with eight strikeouts.
The Blazers finish the region season Friday at Blythewood. Slumping, injury-plagued Lugoff-Elgin plays at Irmo. Both teams are assured of playoff entry with the matter of seeding being the only remaining variable.