Cardinal Newman needed a big regular-season finish to make the SCISA Class 3A state baseball playoff cut, and Mike Darnell’s up-and-down team did the job.
The Cardinals, fresh from a humiliating 23-2 loss to Augusta Christian last Tuesday, closed out the regular season with a 7-5, nine-inning win over Heathwood Hall on Friday to finish in a fourth-place tie with defending SCISA champion Ben Lippen in Region 2-3A. CN then thrashed the Falcons 12-6 on Saturday in a special tie-breaking game to earn the region's fourth and final playoff invitation.
Cardinal Newman (10-13 overall, 4-6 in region play) travels to Sumter today for a first-round doubleheader against Wilson Hall (18-6). The host Barons finished second in Region 3-3A and is the No. 3 seed in the Upper Bracket. If a third game is requited to concluded the best-of-three series, it will be at Cardinal Newman on Tuesday.
“I really thought the season was over after the way we play against Augusta Christian, but I challenge the guys and they responded in a big way,” said CN coach Mike Darnell. “We’re trying to establish a foundation for a successful program here, so to make the playoffs is a huge step for us.”
Michael Bolchoz and Mark Greenwood played the starting roles in the must-win performance vs. Heathwood Hall. Bolchoz made his first start of the season on the mound, and the senior catcher went the distance to improved to 2-0 on the season. Greenwood, a pitcher who had not been used regularly in the lineup, drilled a walk-off, bases-load, two-run double in the bottom of the ninth inning to give keep the Cards’ playoff hopes alive. Greenwood then delivered four more hits and three RBIs in Saturday’s high-noon showdown with Ben Lippen. There was no late-inning drama needed vs. the Falcons, who opened the week with an 8-2 win over the Cards. CN had a 12-1 lead before the Falcons made the score somewhat respectable. Rush Tompkins was the winning pitcher in the do-or-die outing.
Bolchoz and Greenwood have been the team most reliable pitching options. Bolchoz has a 3.82 ERA in 25.2 inning off work, all but nine in relief. Greenwood is 4-3 with a 3.53 ERA is 43.7 innings.
Tompkins has been the hitting star, sporting a .432 batting average and an eye-opening 1.249 OPS. He leads the team is hits (32), doubles (9), triples (3), home runs (2) and RBIs (34) and shares the team lead with 22 runs scored. Otherwise, Bolchoz is batting .277 with 17 RBIs, Greg Regan is hitting .291 with 10 RBIs, Tommy Winterstein is hitting .279 with 12 RBIs, 20 runs and a team-high five steals, Joey DeAngelis is hitting .269 with 10 RBIs and 22 runs and Robert Bonner stands at .299 with 12 RBIs and 20 runs.
Greenwood, who delivered six of his 14 hits in the two pressure games, upped his season average to .351 in 40 at bats.