Third-ranked Blythewood needed a late rally to avoid an upset loss to Fort Mill in the first round of Class 4A state playoffs on Thursday.
The Bengals (21-4) trailed the visiting Yellow Jackets, 5-2, entering the bottom of the sixth inning, cut the deficit a bit with one run in the sixth before staging a game-winning three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh. Senior pitching ace Andrew Beckwith had an unusually tough time on the mound against the 2012 Class 3A runner-up Jackets, allowing five runs (four earned) and 13 hits in 5.2 innings of work, but he had no woes at the plate. The Coastal Carolina-bound Beckwith went 3-for-3 with two RBI and three runs scored. He ripped a solo home run in the first inning for Blythewood’s first run, drove in one run in the seventh with a single and eventually scored the game-winning run on a fielder’s choice grounder off the bat of Conner Grant. He doubled and scored in the sixth on Thomas Bessinger’s single.
Blythewood hosts Boiling Springs in second-round play Friday with the winner advancing to the district championship round on May 1.
Beckwith had the only multi-hit game for Blythewood. Grant had two RBIs but no hits.
Allen Louthian was the winning pitcher in relief of Beckwith.
The decisive move in the seventh started with back-to-back singles by Ryan Malone and Ricky Kernan. Malone raced home on Beckwith’s one-out single. Kernan scored on a Fort Mill error that proved costly. Dereck Croxton kept things going by drawing a two-out walk, bringing Grant to the plate for the final play.