The Blythewood Bengals and Rock Hill Bearcats were like a couple of chickens scratching the dirt for a piece of corn for two innings on Saturday night.
There were more than indications the game would be a pitching duel after the third started with the scored tied 1-1. That was understandable considering the pitchers. Jesse Brewer, Rock Hill's ace, got the nod for the Bearcats and is headed to Spartanburg Methodist.
Blythewood also trotted its ace to the mound, South Carolina Gamecocks signee Greyson Greiner. The night belonged to Greiner. He threw a one hitter and struck out seven in the Bengals' 7-1 win on the Bearcats’ diamond in the opening round of the Class AAAA Upper State tournament.
“You can’t expect to win if your don’t hit,’’ Rock Hill coach Chris Bates said. “Our job now is to get this one out of our system. We lost our opening game in the district tournament but came back with four straight wins to get here.
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“We have to find a way to do it again. We didn’t have a good approach at the plate tonight ... just not very good offensively.’’
The top of the third will be an inning the senior-laden Bearcats will remember forever. The Bengals scored four runs on two hits, two errors and an intentional walk. Rock Hill could have escaped with minimal damage.
Blythewood’s Spencer Branham led off the Bengals third and reached on an error. Greiner, as dangerous with his bat as with this right arm, was intentionally walked after he drove a ball off the the fence in left-center for a first-inning double that led to the game’s first run.
What looked like a good move came back and took a bite out of the Bearcats. Daniel Young, who watched from the on-deck circle while Greiner was issued the free pass, drilled a single through the middle that scored Branham.
After another run scored, after another Rock Hill error and after a play at third ended up with a questionable call, Alec Shettle singled in a pair of runs for a 5-1 Bengals lead.
On the controversial call, Rock Hill had Young trapped between third and the plate on a failed squeeze play. The batter missed the ball on his attempt to bunt and Young turned and ran back to third. He was almost on top of the plate, so Bearcats’ catcher Ross Lisee ran him down and made the tag about two feet away from the bag.
It appeared the ball popped out of Lisee’s mitt after he made the tag and fell to the ground. But two umpires said no, and left Young on third.
But it really didn’t matter with Greiner out there firing fireballs at the Bearcats. And to ensure Rock Hill (25-6) was done for the night, Blythewood added two more runs in the seventh on an RBI single by Joe Haas, who scored on Taylor Purvis’ double.
“Greyson did what we always ask him to do,’’ Blythewood coach Barry Mizzell said. “We ask him to throw strikes and trust his defense. After we had that little spurt in the third, we told him to go out and throw hard as he could, but to make sure the ball was in the strike zone.’’
Rock Hill’s lone run came in the last of the second. Lisee led off with a walk and was lifted for courtesy runner Elvis Delos Santos. He stole second and scored on the Bearcat’s only hit, a single to right by Logan Cribb.
“I can’t say what it was about our hitting tonight,’’ Lisee said. “We were flat and it seemed like we weren’t ready to plate. I don’t know why we didn’t hit him. We mostly saw fastballs, pitches we like to wait on and hit.’’
Rock Hill travels to rival Northwestern for an elimination game on Monday, likely at 6 p.m. Blythewood is on the road against Byrnes to see which team sits out next Wednesday.