Dutch Fork missed out on opportunities early in Saturday’s opening game of Class 5A championship series.
The Silver Foxes weren’t going to let it happen again. Dutch Fork scored four runs in the first inning on its way to a 6-1 win over Blythewood on Tuesday.
The victory forces a winner-take-all game 7 p.m. Friday at Segra Park, the home of the Columbia Fireflies.
“It was super big,” Dutch Fork coach Casey Waites of the team’s start. “We didn’t score runs last time. We loaded the bases no outs (first game) and you don’t want that to happen again. It was big to jump out early and let them know we can hit the ball a little bit.”
Pitcher Ty Olenchuk agreed with this coach. In game one, Dutch Fork had bases loaded with no outs in the first inning and didn’t score in losing, 2-1, in nine innings.
“Missing so many opportunities in game one sucked and that is what killed us,” Olenchuk said. “To come out and hit a good pitcher like we did gave us all the momentum in the game.”
Dutch Fork’s first three batters reached in the first off Blythewood starter and Class 5A Player of Year John Lanier. Then, Noah Jackson single to left scoring pinch runner Jay Kirkland and Hugh Ryan to make it 2-0.
Catcher Lance Fuhr continued his huge postseason with a two-run double later in the inning to make it 4-0. Fuhr went 2-for-4 and has driven in 19 runs this postseason.
Dutch Fork scored one run in second and third to lead 6-1.
The runs were plenty for Olenchuk, a Clemson baseball commit and no stranger to big moments in his career. The junior has been part of many big games in his career as quarterback of the Silver Foxes football team that has won three straight state titles.
Olenchuk delivered another big game performance to keep Dutch Fork’s season alive. The junior went the distance, allowed one run on five hits, striking out seven and walking two.
It was Olenchuk’s second win in an elimination game in less than six days. He got the win against River Bluff to force a deciding game in the Lower State championship.
Dutch Fork is 5-0 in elimination games this postseason.
“The guys told me before the game just like last week, get us to Game 3. We are going to make this thing happen. ,” Olenchuk said. “I have been in big-time situations with football before, three years in a row. You start to get used to it and lot of confidence that helped us out.
“It’s definitely a comfort level. Some guys who never been here, they get shook. After the football experience and big-game experience, it is incredible to have under my belt in these situations before.”
Lanier took the loss, giving up six earned runs on eight hits. The Citadel was pulled early enough that he could pitch Friday if needed.
Brady Beasley had two of Blythewood’s five hits. Harrison Lambert had an RBI single in the second for Blythewood’s lone run.
Bengals coach Banks Faulkner said his team couldn’t get much going against Olenchuk especially after falling behind early. But he expects them to be ready for Friday.
“I always said momentum starts on the mound and we got all our pitchers available,” said Faulkner who has been part of deciding game threes in title games before. “We will throw the kitchen sink at them and be ready to go. This team has got incredible leadership, bounced back all year and handled adversity like champs. I got no doubt they will do it Friday night.”
WP: Ty Olenchuk LP: John Lanier Hitters: B: Brady Beasley 2-3, Harrison Lambert 1-3 RBI. DF: Bryan Helms 2-3 RBI; Noah Jackson 1-4 2 RBI; Lance Fuhr 2-3 2 RBI; Jay Metts 1-3 RBI.