The Region 4-4A baseball season gets underway Friday. Ridge View and Spring Valley both have home games, while Blythewood makes its official Class 4A debut at Lancaster.
Ridge View (3-2) hosts South Pointe in its first outing against a 4A team this season. To date, the Blazers have split with Airport and Lugoff-Elgin, and beaten first-year Cane Bay.
“I think we’ll be competitive in the region,” said RV manager Tommy Hill. “We lost three good seniors from last year, but we have some good players coming back. The big question mark is our pitching; we just don’t have the depth we did last year.”
The Blazers were 20-7 last spring, and shared the pennant in old Region 5-4A with Spring Valley, Richland Northeast and Dutch Fork.
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Hill is still trying to sort out the pitching rotation. Seniors Richard Crisostomo, Tony Price and Andrew Hill figure to get a lot of work. Crisostomo was 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA in nine appearances a year ago, but had only one start. Price was 1-1 with a 1.68 ERA in six outings (two starts). Hill had the most time of the hill of the three – pitching in nine games and 32.1 innings. He had a 3-2 record with one save and a 4.55 ERA.
Junior Scott Baldwin was 2-0 with a 2.47 ERA in three games (two starts). Sophomores Alex Snider, Edwin Grffin and Branton Smith are also in the mix.
“I’ve been stressing to the pitchers to throw strikes,” said Hill. “We have to limt walks to give our defense, which should be good, a chance to make plays.”
On the field, there is far less uncertainty. Blake Clamp, Julio Iglesias, Hughston Armstrong, Hill and Price return. Clamp only hit .236 but had an on-base percentage of .436 and scored 24 runs. Iglesias batted .316 with a .416 on-base percentage, ripped two home runs, scored 25 runs and drove in 18. Hill finished with a .364 average, a .435 OBP, 25 runs and 23 RBIs. Price batted .33 with 17 runs scored. Armstrong had a huge sophomore season in 2008, leading the Blazers is batting average (.464), OBP (.532), hits (39), runs (36) and home runs (5).
Spring Valley welcomes back 10 lettermen from last season’s 10-17 squad that clicked in region play. Three-year vets Jared Keels, Andrew Floyd, Jeremiah Jackson, Jake Zokan, and Joc Brunson lead the way.
The Vikings enter the region campaign with a 2-3 record, and two wins after losing their first three outings in the RBI tournament at White Knoll last week. SV thumped West Florence 10-3 on Tuesday behind the power hitting of Brunson and Floyd. Brunson cracked a sole home run, and Floyd later ripped a three-run shot.
Blythewood suffered major graduation hits off a team that went 26-8 and pushed A.C. Flora to the limit in the Upper State championship tournament. The Bengals were 3-2 entering Thursday game against Hartsville.
The lone returning regulars are star sophomore catcher Grayson Greiner, seniors Michael Hanzlik and Will Smith and junior Will Ferrell. Juniors Tre’ Minor and Alec Shettle and sophomore Taylor Eubanks saw some varsity time last season.