Blythewood, White Knoll and Spring Valley are still standing in the Class 4A state baseball playoffs, which enter the district championship phase tonight.
4A District 1: Wren at Blythewood
The young, unranked Bengals (13-12) struggled early while trying to find an identity, but have put it together at the right time. Blythewood has won six of its last seven games, including a 2-1 over Rock Hill in the final game of the regular season that netted it the No. 2 seed in the playoffs out of Region 4.
The trend has continued in postseason play so far.
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Blythewood opened the playoffs with a 6-4 win at home over Gaffney and advanced to the district final with a 4-1 triumph at Wren on Saturday.
Woody Paschal allowed three hits and one run in a four-inning starting stint to pick up the mound decision against Wren. Grayson Greiner came on to blank the Golden Hurricanes to earn a save. Greiner allowed just one hit and struck out five. Spencer Branham had a hand in two of the Bengal runs – stroking a RBI single in the second and laying down a squeeze bunt in the fourth.
Paschal got a save in relief of Taylor Purvis in the playoff-opening win over Gaffney – tossing two perfect innings with three strikeouts. Greiner went 3-3 with a triple and and two RBIs to pace the attack. Meanwhile, Brandon Burris was 2-4 with three steals and scored one run and Daniel Young was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Wren (24-3) earned another shot at Blythewood with a 4-3 win over Gaffney on Tuesday. The fifth-ranked Golden Hurricanes’ lone run in the first meeting with the Bengals came on a first-inning home run by Brett Cash off Paschal.
Blythewood needs one win to advance to the Elite Eight for the second time in school history.
4A District 5: Hartsville at White Knoll
The second-ranked Timberwolves (25-1) have won 23 in a row, the most recent being a 6-2 over Hartsville in the district semifinal game on Saturday. It was a big win, of course, but the game did mark the end of a run of 11 straight games in which the potent WK attack failed to score 10 or more runs.
Zack Smith has been on fire in postseason play. The T-Wolves first baseman had two hits and five RBIs in a 14-4 district first-round rout of Irmo and delivered two hits and four RBIs against Hartsville. Matt Tanner, Carl Wise and Ray Murphy also put up big numbers vs. Irmo. Tanner went 3-for-4 with a home run, three runs scored, two RBIs and two steals, Wise was 2-4 with a triple and four RBIs and Murphy had two hits and a walk and scored three times.
Chris Andrews was the winner on the hill against Irmo, allowing just three hits. Eric Allen went the distance for the win against Hartsville, allowing 10 hits.
Hartsville won a state championship in 2007, but has failed to get past the district level in the past two seasons. In fact, the Red Foxes blew district titles by being swept by Wando (2008) and Lexington (2009) in the finals.
4A District 4: Spring Valley at Byrnes
Spring Valley stayed alive by eliminating Clover 5-1 last night. It was the 20th win of the season for the young Vikings, who must win two games tonight in Duncan to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2006.
Austin Bailey pitched six shutout innings against the visiting Eagles last night, but need relief help from Jared Keels in the seventh. Keels, who tossed a two-hit shutout vs. Clover in a 10-0 first-round win last week, came in to close the door by retring all three Clover batters he faced.
Unranked Byrnes nipped the ninth-ranked Vikings 4-3 in the district semifinal game on Saturday. Bailey slugged a two-run homer, but the story of the game was the 10 Vikings runners stranded on the bases.
4A District 6: Lexington at Sumter
Lexington gets another crack at Sumter after falling 2-1 to the Gamecocks in semifinal play on Saturday. The Wildcats earned the rematch by downing West Ashley 8-4 on Tuesday.
Lexington (14-12) needs two wins to move on, but the Wildcats faced the same challenge last season against Hartsville and pulled off a doubleheader sweep to qualify for the Lower State tournament.
Jeremy Buckner’s single up the middle through a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the seventh-inning was the game winner against Lexington and Wildcats ace Alex Brooks on Saturday. The well-placed safety scored Drew Crooks, who led off the inning by reaching on an error.
Lexington tied the game with an unearned run in the top of the seventh. Jack Blackwell’s single plated Aric Bane, who ironically reached base on an error by Buckner, to make it a 1-1 game. Buckner singled and scored Sumter’s first run in the first inning, crossing on a ground out by Stephen Curtis.
Jordan Montgomery was the Sumter winner on the mound, allowing just two Wildcat hits. Brooks was touched for six hits in 6.1 innings of work.
Ross Richardson was the winning pitcher in Lexington’s survival win against West Ashley and Blackwell ripped a home run.