Just A Bit Outside 3-30
We did it. We finally had a week where rain hasn’t canceled at least a day or 2 of the week’s games. (It is supposed to rain cats and dogs all day Thursday, but there is only 1 game scheduled for that day for our local teams, so it won’t be as big a washout as it would be if we had a full slate of games on hand.) With region play getting underway and some non region matchups that could be a playoff preview, no rain is a good thing. (Sorry, Luke Bryan…)
Let’s dive right in on a team-by-team recap of last week, starting with this past Thursday.
Landrum began region play with Greer Middle College Charter School, a favorable matchup for a young team needing to get back on the winning track, gain a little confidence, and get some region wins at the same time. GMC was 0-3 coming into the series with the Cardinals. Sitting at the bottom of the standings in region 2-2A. Landrum did exactly what they needed to in the series, sweeping the 2 game set.
In game 1, Jesse Bowers pitched a gem, going 6 innings and striking out 14, while surrendering 2 runs on 3 hits. Sawyer Smith had a strong night at the dish, going 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI as the Cards knocked off the Blazers 5-2 at home. The Cardinals were just as dominant on both sides of the ball in game two on the road this past Friday. Wesley Shipman K’d 10 batters in 6 innings, only giving up 2 hits. Jesse Bowers showed he can do it on the mond and at the plate, as he drove in 3 runs with a 2 bagger. Sawyer Smith also had an extra base hit for 2 RBIs in the 9-1 win.
Landrum did not have long to enjoy the sweep as they traveled to take on Broome in non-region play Tuesday night. They were outmatched, and it showed in the lopsided score, as Broome picked up a 9-1 win. The Cardinals currently sit 2-3 overall, but in 2nd place in region 2-2A at 2-0 (Blacksburg has played 1 more region game and thus holds the edge at 3-1 in region).
Chesnee finally managed to get their season off the ground after a wet start. Rain forced postponement/cancellation of 2 of their first 4 games, leading to them only having played once over the course of the 1st week of the season. The Eagles started their region slate Thursday night at Dean Jones Stadium vs the Blacksburg Wildcats. Chesnee jumped on the “Cats with Bats” (that is Blacksburg’s Twitter handle. @CatswithBats13. Props. It is catchy and creative) early, with 8 runs in the first 2 innings. Davis Rising, Ethan Lawson, and Carson Williamson each had an RBI single in the bottom of the 1st. In the 2nd, the Eagles exploded for a 5 spot on RBI singles from Landon Thompson, Jonah Epps, and Ethan Lawson as well as an RBI groundout from Davis Rising and a bases loaded walk by Tucker Johnson. Those 8 runs would be all the offense Chesnee needed as they went on to win 8-1.
Game 2 did not go very well for the Eagles on the road as Blacksburg dealt them a 10-0 shutout Friday night on the road to split the series and even the Eagles’ region record at 1-1.
In non-region action, Chapman made the trip over on Tuesday night to renew their old rivalry that dates back a long way. This game was about to be blown wide open in the top of the 1st inning as Chapman loaded the bases on back to back to back 1 out base hits. They went on to score 3 without the benefit of a hit as Drew Settle, Cason Owens, and Johann Rodriguez drew three straight bases loaded walks. With the bases still loaded, Landon Thompson came in to pitch for Chesnee and managed to put out the fire, getting 2 outs on 2 pitches. The Panthers plated 2 more in the top of the 2nd on an RBI single from Hudson Moss, who scored the 2nd run of the inning on a wild pitch a short time later. That was all the offense Chapman was able to muster on the night, and although Chesnee hung around, they still could not break through until the 6th inning when the Eagles plated 3 on a 2 run single from Trace Berger and a sacrifice RBI from Tucker Johnson. Chesnee would have an opportunity in the 7th, with the tying run on and 2 out. Carson Williamson deposited a single to left for what would have cut it to a 1 run game had it not been for Landon Solebsee fielding the ball and throwing a dart to the plate to gun down the runner and end the game, securing the 5-3 win for Chapman.
After going 1-3 this week (which is now their overall record, 1-1 in region 2-2A), Chesnee, who is currently 4th in the region standings, will take on Woodruff on Wednesday in non-region action before starting a home and home 2 game set with Brashier Middle College on Thursday and Friday (barring the expected rain on Thursday).
Broome, after responding to adversity in nearly every sense of the word by finding a way to settle down, chip away, and not try to do too much, got a huge come back 6-4 win over Clinton to open region 3-3A play. Adversity and response would be an accurate summary of how the next 2 games went for the Centurions. Friday night, they took to the road to go to Clinton to wrap up the series. The Red Devils repaid the favor for the comeback Tuesday and then some, as they dealt Broome their first loss of the season, falling 10-3 to even their region record at 1-1.
Broome responded to the adversity of their first loss in the best way possible – a dominant win. Yes, it was against a Landrum team that they outmatched, but nonetheless, even when you outmatch a team, it is no guarantee of a win in baseball. Any team can beat anyone on any given day. Things happen. Slumps happen. Great plays happen. Big moments happen. Baseball is funny that way. At the end of the day, even when you’re a heavy favorite, you still have to come in with a good mindset and execute. Broome did exactly that, as they beat Landrum 9-1.
Also, that win over Landrum marked a milestone I’d be remiss not to point out. Congratulations to Broome Head Coach Ben Waddle! This win marked the 475th of his career. That is legendary.
The Centurions are now 7-1 overall after a 3-0 shutout of Union on Tuesday, but currently sit 2nd in region 3-3A behind Chapman with 1 more game to play this week Friday against Union at Timken complex.
Chapman Coach Steve Fusaro will tell you without hesitation that he absolutely loves his team. Last week, I pointed out that they returned nearly everyone from a team that made a run last season. Obviously that helps. But another thing about this team that Fusaro loves is that they have a whole roster full of guys that can contribute. It’s “Next man up” and then some. Like Broome, they can beat you any way and they find ways to win. A simple summary of this team so far/ a philosophy they seem to have embraced is to “JKW”. Just Keep Winning.
This past week, Chapman did just that in the games that matter. They had already won their first region game with Emerald when I wrote last week. They ended up sweeping them with another win on Friday night to jump Broome and take over the catbird seat in region 3-3A at 5-0 in region. Before I say anything else about that game, though, let’s take a look at what happened on Thursday when the Panthers took on Byrnes in non-region play.
As much as you want to win a big non-region game (afterall, don’t you play to win the game?), they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. By and large, Region games are more important. Normally, you might say that for a 3A team playing a 5A team, you’re outmatched and you’re just trying to get ABs in against great pitching. Well, baseball is not a logical or ideal sport. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day. That is especially true for this deep Chapman team. They are very capable of beating a team like Byrnes.
Fusaro opted to save his 2, 3, and 4 hole hitters for the region game at Emerald the next day. Byrnes also opted to save their better arms, going with Kaden Roach as their starter and Payne Sheriff out of the bullpen. They pitched surprisingly well, striking out 10 Panther hitters combined with just 3 walks and a run on 4 hits to that potent Chapman lineup. On the flip side, Chapman used 5 different arms, including Drew Settle (starter), Jonah Rollins, Cason Owens, Dalton Mahaffey, and JJ Highducheck.
They held the Rebels at bay until walks started to become a problem in the 4th inning. They walked 6 over the final 4 innings, and well, you know the saying. Walks will always come back to bite you. Especially leadoff walks. The big blow in the game came after back to back walks to open the top of the 7th. Then Gabe Rogers blasted a 3 run homer to make it 6-0. Chapman scored their lone run of the game on a Jacob Cogdell pinch hit RBI single in the bottom of the 7th. But Byrnes won it 6-1, dealing Chapman their first loss of the season.
In region play Friday, Chapman had all their big bats back in the lineup and rebounded nicely, bombarding Emerald 16-3 to go to 5-0 in region 3-3A. As we already touched on, the Panthers beat Chesnee 5-3, again resting one of their better hitters in Ricky Montalvo and playing more of their usual bench guys.
The 1st place Panthers got back to region action Tuesday with the Clinton Red Devils, beating them 6-3 to go to 6-0 in region and will travel to Clinton Friday night.
Union is off to a 3-2 overall start, 2-2 in region 3-3A, having swept Woodruff (5-4 Tuesday, 8-4 Friday) and having lost to Clinton 14-4 back on March 15th. The Yellow Jackets have a tough test in region play this week. They play a 2 game set with Broome, and slipped in game 1 Tuesday night 3-0. Game 2 is at Timken Friday night. The Jackets are tied for 3rd in the region standings with Clinton and are looking to keep building on some of the positive momentum they have going after winning 3 out of their last 4.
Woodruff is just struggling hard. Can’t ignore the obvious, and I don’t think this Woodruff team would want it ignored. There’s no team in this area hungrier for some wins than the Wolverines, and they have a great opportunity this week to get some momentum going to push them in a better direction. Right now, they sit at 1-7 overall, 0-4 in region 3-3A, in last place. They play Emerald this week with game 1 having been played last night in Greenwood (which they lost 3-2) and game 2 on Friday at Woodruff. Between those, the Wolverines will travel to Chesnee on Wednesday.
Greer in similar circumstances as Woodruff, Greer is hungry for a win. The Yellow Jackets are 0-5 overall and sitting last in 2-4A with a region record of 0-4. They have a tough set this week, with 2 against a solid Laurens team in region play. They dropped game 1 Tuesday at Greer 5-3 and the second game of the series will be Friday down in Laurens.
Dorman is in good standing, currently 5-2 overall and tied for 1st in region 2-5A with Byrnes and Spartanburg. Since last week’s edition of this article , they have played a pair of non-region games that were a potential playoff matchup preview against Boiling Springs this past Friday and a rematch of the 2021 Upperstate championship with Hillcrest (with the Hillcrest one being a part of a 2 game series).
Against Boiling Springs, which was originally supposed to be a 2 game series until rain forced the total cancellation of game 1, both teams opted to save their better arms for the bigger series this week, as Boiling Springs has a series with region implications against the 3-5A favorite Clover and Dorman, again, has the defending 5A state champion and an early favorite to repeat.
Dorman went with Braeden Harrison to start while the Bulldogs went with Dylan Anderson. There were a couple of stories in this game. First off, Boiling Springs left the bases loaded 4 times, just unable to come up with a clutch hit. Credit to Dorman. Braeden Harrison and Adams Faucett combined to pitch effectively enough. Harrison picked up the win, going 4 innings with 4 Ks, 3 walks, 4 hits, and no runs. Faucett pitched 2.2 innings in relief, but things fell apart on him in the 7th as he walked 3 to load them with 2 out. With the tying run at the plate in Luke Compton, he was taken down for Byers Smith who got him to just get underneath one to fly out to center and end the game.
Offensively, Dorman just did what they do best and slugged their way to a couple of big innings early with a 4 spot in the 1st and tacked on another with a Hudson Lee solo homer in the 3rd.
Monday night, sophomore Brayden Parton got the nod for Dorman and apparently pitched well as the Cavaliers held Hillcrest to just 1 run through 6 innings. The Cavs led 4-1 heading to the bottom of the 7th only to see the Rams rally to tie it with 3 runs. The game went to extra innings and Hillcrest managed to complete the comeback with a walkoff to win 5-4 in 8.
The Cavs and Rams will battle one more time in this regular season Friday night at Sims Field in Roebuck.
Byrnes rebounded nicely after a 22-11 blowout loss on Tuesday of last week at Greenwood with a 5-2 win on Thursday at Chapman and an 8-6 win at home to avenge the loss to Greenwood. But this week, the Rebels return to region 2-5A play, beginning a 3 game set with the Riverside Warriors. It didn’t get off to an ideal start for the Rebels, who are tied for 1st with Dorman and Spartanburg at 2-1 in region after a tough 4-1 loss on the road last night. Game 2 is set for Wednesday at 6:30 in Duncan, and the finale will be Friday at 6:30 at Riverside.
Spartanburg has split their last 2 games with a 12-10 loss to Eastside on the road this past Friday and a 12-5 region win over Wade Hampton Monday. The Vikings are 4-2 overall on the season and are in a 3 way tie for 1st in region 2-5A with a region record of 2-1. They have a good shot at least keeping pace since Dorman does not play a region game this week and Byrnes has a winnable series with Riverside. Wade Hampton is struggling, at the bottom of the region at 2-5 overall, and the Vikings face them 2 more times this week with game 2 on Wednesday at Hillcrest and the finale at Duncan Park Friday night.
Boiling Springs is a team that I have repeatedly described as scrappy. That’s their identity. They’re usually not a big power hitting team. They do always have strong pitching and they have guys that just grind at the plate and lots of speed on the bases. That is this team in a nutshell so far. They have strong pitching in Tristan Smith and Landon Ellis. They have a good couple of relievers in Jackson Cole and Jackson Kostiuk. But what is most striking is that they have a lot of guys that just get on base.
The Bulldogs certainly didn’t have an issue getting runners on Friday night against Dorman. They left the bags full 4 times. It was clutch hitting. The clutch problem has not been a thing for the Dogs much this season, and it wasn’t on Monday when they beat Clover handily. But in this one game against Dorman, their plate approach with runners in scoring position wasn’t good. Prime example (and nothing against him at all. He was lacking discipline in the moment trying to do just a bit too much) — Tristan Smith came up with 2 on and nobody out. He swung at 3 straight bad pitches down in the zone and K’d. That kinda set the tone for the game that they went on to lose 5-2, Boiling Springs’ first loss of the year.
The scrappy bulldogs got right back on track in their region opener Monday night, as they hung a 6 spot in the 1st inning and 2 more in the 3rd. They were getting good swings and driving the ball to all fields, but the real story of the game was the pitching.
Clover is a good offensive team. But Tristan Smith was incredible. He pitched 5.2 innings, tallied 15 Ks, walked 4, and gave up 1 hit and 2 unearned runs. Jackson Kostiuk struck out 2 more Blue Eagle hitters in relief to make 17.
Winning the series opener is huge for Boiling Springs as this sets them up with a good chance to win the series, which will put them in control of their own destiny as far as possibly winning region 3-5A. Right now the Dogs are in 3rd, but that is mainly because Monday was their first region game. They’ll play Clover again Wednesday on the road and will host them for the series finale Friday night.
Gaffney has actually played more games than any team in our area despite all the weather issues we have had so far. The Indians are 2-6 overall, having beaten Southside Christian back on the 14th and having salvaged the finale in their 2 game series with Nation Ford to open region play this past Friday. Monday, they made the trek down to River Bluff to open a 2 game series, where they fell 14-4. Game 2 is going to be Friday in Gaffney. Between those games, the Indians will host York on Wednesday night, who beat them 13-5 earlier this season.
Gaffney currently sits in 4th in region 3-5A with a region record of 1-1.
Here’s a list of scores and the schedule for the rest of the week:
Boiling Springs 8
Dorman 4 F/8 innings
Wade Hampton 5
River Bluff 14
Wade Hampton 6:30
Blacksburg 7:30 (moved up a day due to rain in forecast Thursday)
Brashier MC 7:30 (weather permitting)
Boiling Springs 6:30