High School Sports

Blythewood baseball wins thriller over Dutch Fork in opening game of title series

Watch: Blythewood’s Zach Bailes with walk-off single against Dutch Fork

Blythewood shortstop Zach Bailes had a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Bengals a 2-1 win over Dutch Fork in Game 1 of Class 5A championship series.
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Blythewood shortstop Zach Bailes had a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Bengals a 2-1 win over Dutch Fork in Game 1 of Class 5A championship series.

Zach Bailes was ready to go home and he made sure he sent the Blythewood fans packed in at Bengal Field home happy.

The Blythewood senior hit a shot back up the middle to score Michael Gregory and give the Bengals a 2-1 win over Dutch Fork in nine innings Saturday in game one of the Class 5A championship series.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series is set for Dutch Fork on Tuesday.

“Landon pitched great all game, Josh came in and shut it down. It was the ninth inning I felt we might as well go home,” said Bailes, who was joined in the postgame interview by Ralph, a python and the team’s mascot. “Rain was coming, I heard the thunder. I figured I get a hit there. It was a great team effort.

“It is always good to win game one. It was my last home game so it was a big one to win.”

Blythewood scored the game-winning run like it has a lot during the postseason — with two outs. Gregory ripped a single to left and then stole second. Josh Cowan followed by beating out a grounder to shortstop Crosby Jones. The first base umpire ruled Dutch Fork first baseman Bryan Helms’ foot came off the bag.

Then, Bailes ripped a shot up the middle past pitcher Andrew Fulmer. Pinch-runner Watson Saunders was safe at second as Gregory crossed the plate.

“That is what high school baseball is all about,” Blythewood coach Banks Faulkner said. “Hats off to their pitcher (Sam Hatcher) and ours Landon Lucas. They both kept battling. Eventually there is going to be a break and thankfully for us it was in the right spot. … just an incredible job by our guys finding a way to win.”

The game featured outstanding performances by starting pitchers — Blythewood’s Landon Lucas and Dutch Fork’s Sam Hatcher. Lucas went 7 ⅓ innings, giving up just one run on two hits. Lucas retired the final 18 batters he faced after the Silver Foxes’ first two batters reached in the second.

Hatcher was equally impressive, tossing eight innings and allowing one run on five hits while walking four and striking out three.

“Sam hadn’t pitched much until this last week. He pitched good against Summerville and did a great job tonight. He deserved to win,” Dutch Fork coach Casey Waites said. “But that is baseball.”

Waites said his players were obviously frustrated after the loss but will have a few days off to regroup before game two. The Silver Foxes will have their top two pitchers, Ty Olenchuk and Doug Webb, who were available not Saturday because of pitching Wednesday.

Blythewood took the lead in the bottom of the first. After working his way out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the first. Lucas’ hit his seventh homer of the season, a solo shot, to make it 1-0.

Dutch Fork tied it in the top of the second on Jay Metts’ sacrifice fly.

Cowan pitched 1 ⅔ innings of no-hit relief to get the win for Blythewood. Gregory and Bailes had four of Blythewood’s seven hits.

WP: Josh Cowan LP: Andrew Fulmer Hitters: DF: Price Alexander 1-3 R. B: Landon Lucas 1-4 HR, RBI; Zach Bailes 2-5 RBI; Michael Gregory 2-4

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