Of the four teams that advanced to the Class 4A Upper State baseball tournament, Mauldin was the only one that did not have to play twice Wednesday in the district finals to get there.
Whatever advantage that might have given the Mavericks was thrown out the window Saturday by Blythewood pitcher Allen Louthian. The side-winding right-hander baffled the Mavericks with off-speed pitches and led the Bengals to a 5-0 win at McClain Field.
“We knew what we were going to get, and we prepared for it in the cage and on the curveball machine. We just didn’t make those adjustments,” Mauldin coach Jim Maciejewski said. “You’ve got to change what you’re doing if you’re not being successful, and we didn’t do that.”
The third-ranked Bengals (27-5) advance to play at either Dorman or Wade Hampton on Tuesday, while the eighth-ranked Mavericks (17-11) will travel to Region 2-4A rival Dorman or Wade Hampton for an elimination game Tuesday.
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Dorman’s game at Wade Hampton was rained out Saturday. They will play Monday at 6 p.m.
Louthian tossed a complete game three-hit shutout. Those three hits all were singles, and Louthian finished with three walks, two hit batters and nine strikeouts.
“Allen hasn’t started that many games for us. He’s kind of our first relief guy, and he’s just been really good for us all year,” Blythewood coach Barry Mizzell said. “We had to use so many guys Wednesday to get through that we had to start him. That’s probably a good thing for us, because he’s been pitching better than most of our other guys.”
Mauldin ace Cory Thompson pitched around four walks in the first three innings of a scoreless game.
The Bengals’ Derek Croxton led off the fourth by reaching on an error. He came around to score on another Mauldin error two batters later. With two outs, Blythewood No. 9 hitter D.J. Schofield hit a sinking line drive to left-center that Mauldin center fielder Kyle Scott nearly caught on a sliding, underhand attempt. But it was ruled a trap, and Blythewood’s first hit scored Connor Grant to make it 2-0.
Thompson allowed another single before departing after five innings. He finished with five strikeouts.
“They’re a quality team and well-coached, and they play well as a unit,” Maciejewski said. “You can’t afford to give them extra opportunities.”
The Bengals added three insurance runs in the seventh. Croxton and Chaz Mizzell drew back-to-back walks with the bases loaded, and Grant hit what would have been a sacrifice fly, but it was dropped for the Mavs’ third error.
“We knew it was going to be a difficult task with Cory on the mound. He’d been pitching really well, but our kids have been playing well and we came up here with some confidence,” Barry Mizzell said. “We did what we’ve been doing pretty much all year long — we pitched well, we played good defense and we found a way to scratch across a run here or there.”