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Boiling Springs

Just A Bit Outside- Upper State

I am 100% a firm believer that there is absolutely nothing like playoff baseball. The MLB postseason is always wild with its moments an unsung heroes that arise. The NCAA baseball tournament, while not as big as March Madness, is still fun to keep up with, especially when it gets down to Omaha. The College World Series is the best 2 weeks of the Summer and is always something I look forward to each year. 

 

High school baseball is no different. There are big moments. There are players that will forever cement their legacy with heroic moments and feats that bring glory and trophies to their alma maters. There are huge upsets. There is the incredible thrill of victory and the dejecting agony of defeat. There is incredible camaraderie displayed in team mates rallying around and supporting each other that shows the best in humanity and part of what makes sports so great. Yes indeed.. There is nothing quite as extraordinary in sports than the postseason. 

 

In our listening area, we saw 10 teams earn a spot in the postseason. Landrum, Chesnee, Chapman, Broome, Union County, Boiling Springs, Byrnes, Dorman, and Spartanburg, Out of the regions we cover that are still within the Greenville-Spartanburg and Cherokee County areas, we also saw St. Joseph’s, Blacksburg and Riverside make it into the playoffs. It all suffices to say that around these parts, high school baseball is something we all can – and do – take a lot of pride in. 

 

Landrum entered the 2A district 4 playoffs as the #3 seed after a loss at the end of the regular season to Chesnee and an even tougher loss in a tiebreaker game with Blacksburg with 2nd place in region 2-2A on the line. The road for this young Cardinals team through the playoffs would not be an easy one as they had to go on the road to Newberry. The Cards put up a great battle with the Bulldogs, but ultimately couldn’t get much out of their offense, and ended up losing on a walkoff wild pitch 3-2. That set them up for a home elimination game with a Liberty team that has been able to score runs with ease all season. Landrum managed to make a game of this one with their bats, but ultimately could not muster enough out of their limited pitching to hold the Red Devils down, falling 9-5 to end their season. 

 

Although you never want to end the season like that, there is a lot of hope for Landrum’s future. The Cardinals did not start this season off very well at all in non-region play. But, this team, comprised of a lot of youth ranging from 8th graders to sophomores, managed to find something once they got into region play and were only 2 games away from potentially winning the region. The experience they all gained will be of value to them moving forward and I firmly believe that Landrum will be a terror for opponents within the next year or two. 

 

Chesnee is a team that although the results didn’t necessarily show it, I said from after seeing them in the Steve Sanders Tournament that they could slug. Not for power or big extra base hits. But they could hit the ball hard and make things happen by putting it in play. That approach certainly was a benefit to them down the stretch as they manaed to gel and find a rhythm over the final 2 weeks of the season to backdoor their way into the playoffs as a 4 seed in 2A district 1. The Eagles had a tough draw with Batesburg-Leesville, Abbeville, and Cheraw in their district. The Eagles had to open at Abbeville, and dropped it 8-3. However, they didn’t give up. Chesnee tore their way through the elimination bracket with 11-2 win over Cheraw, and a 4-2 win in 9 innings over Batesburg-Leesville to get to the district championship for a rematch with Abbeville. Speaking of Abbeville, the Panthers were one of the top ranked teams in 2A all season long, finishing the regular season with just 2 losses. Chesnee did not let that fact intimidate them. 

 

In the district championship, the Eagles managed to hold the Panthers hot bats down in game one, while rallying back for a 4-2 win to force a game 2. In the second game, Chesnee fought back from being down 5-1 after an inning to take a 6-5 lead to the bottom of the 7th. Ultimately, Abbeville broke through and tied it with a one out RBI double and walked off with a 2 out  RBI single to win the district. But the resliency and fight Chesnee showed against a team that was picked to run the table to take them to the final out of a 2nd game for the district is incredible. Hats off to them for the effort and heart. Dean Jones was no doubt smiling ear to ear with pride as he looked down on his beloved Chesnee Eagles program nearly pull off the biggest upset of the postseason. 

 

2-seeded Blacksburg also had to fight back from the elimination bracket after falling to Crescent 12-4 in their opener. They rebounded with a 10-9 walkoff win over Central, who led 9-7 heading to the bottom of the 7th. The Wildcats walked off after a game tying 2 run homer and a little small ball to push home a runner that walked and stole 2nd to set up an RBI single. They would get a rematch with Crescent for a berth in the district championship, and beat them 5-3 on Saturday to advance to take on #1 seed and heavy state championship favorite Gray Collegiate. Gray dealt them a 9-0 shutout to end the season, but one can’t deny that Backsburg was a fantastic ball club. They were within a game of winning region 2-2A and were in the mix all season long. 

 

Chapman, despite a heartbreaking loss in the tie breaker game with Clinton for the region 3-3A championship, managed to run the table through the 3A district 4 playoffs, beating a talented Blue Ridge team 7-2, Mid Carolina 7-2, and defeating Mid Carolina again 3-2 in the district championship. 

 

The Panthers will open the upperstate semifinal round on the road at top seeded Seneca, and will have a slight advantage. While both teams only needed 1 game to clinch the district, Seneca ended up burning their ace Jacob McGovern to beat Broome 1-0, meaning he will be unavailable until Monday at the soonest. 

 

Speaking of Broome, the Centurions entered as the 3 seed in 3A district 1. They opened with a strong 8-2 win over Palmetto before falling to district champion Seneca 10-4 in the next round. In an elimination game this past Saturday, the Centurions once again got the best of Palmetto, knocking them off 10-4 to advance to the district championship. Unfortunately, in spite of a valiant effort from Jeb Dawson saw just as dominant of an outing from Seneca ace Jacob McGovern, who had a perfect game going into the 6th inning before Morgan Robson broke it up with a leadoff single. McGovern pitched into the 9th inning of the marathon game, exiting with 2 out with an impressive line – no runs, 19 K, 1 walk, and just the 1 hit. Seneca waled it off with an RBI single in the bottom of the 9th to eliminate Broome. But, just like with Chesnee’s effort against Abbeville, you have to applaud Broome’s fight going up against one of the most highly touted pitching prospects in the upstate, to go 9 innings toe to toe. Broome has some special young talent still there such as Sophomore South Carolina commit Brady Jones, who was big on this run to the district final, pitching 6 scoreless innings in the elimination game with Palmetto, who can also hit well. There is little doubt that Ben Waddle will have a playoff team again next year. 

 

Union was a much-improved team in 2022 from last year, having finished 4th in the loaded region 3-3A and making the playoffs. Like pretty much everyone, the Jackets got a tough draw, having to open at Powdersville, where they fell 5-3. In the elimination bracket, Union faced a familiar foe in the Chester Cyclones. It was not meant to be as the cyclones eliminated them with a hard-fought 5-4 win, but you cannot deny that Union took a big step in the right direction this season. I don’t know what they have coming back, but I do know that this season was something to keep building on for the program. 

 

5A was where things got interesting, as almost nothing went “chalk” as we say at the station. Nothing went as expected. There was lots of postseason chaos that reigned. Starting with the team most were favoring to likely meet Blythewood for the upperstate championship – Clover. Rock Hill pulled off an incredible upset in the opening round, defeating the Blue Eagles 2-1. Clover would rebound their way back to the upperstate championship, where they would have to beat TL Hanna twice. That did not happen, as the Yellow Jackets defeated them 3-2 on a walkoff 2 run single in one game. 

 

Dorman had turned on the jets down the stretch after sweeping Byrnes to overtake Spartanburg and win region 2-5A. With their offense, they were poised to be able to hang with anyone on the playoffs. The question was whether or not they’d have enough pitching. They had a 2nd capable arm this year in Mitch Wilson, so there was a possibility they culd have made a run to the upperstate round again. They opened the district 2 playoffs strong with an 8-3 win over a familiar opponent – the Mauldin Mavericks. But their offense ran into the 2nd biggest surprise in 5A – a hot buzzsaw that is Fort Mill. The Yellow jackets were on the brink of not making the playoffs after dropping 2 out of 3 from Boiling Springs in their next to last region series. But, they rebounded by sweeping Gaffney to backdoor in. They got hot against Gaffney, clearly. Though Dorman came back out of the elimination bracket with a 7-2 win saturday over Mauldin, they had tomgomto Fort Mill and beat them twice. The long road trip, the late start, and the strain on pitching for Dorman eas their undoing as Fort Mill won the district as a 4 seed, defeating the Cavaliers in a slugfest 10-7.

 

Byrnes:  the Rebels were still a good baseball teamthis season; they just had their ace Gabe Rogers get hurt to where he was unavailable to pitch and could only hit, creating some depth issues and leding to them running out of gas down the stretch. Because of that, they ended up getting bounced as expected with those circumstances after 2 games, falling to JL Mann 10-0 and Northwestern 3-1. I don’t know what lies ahead for next season for Byrnes, but the baseball is more exciting around here when they are competitive. I hope to see the Rebels bounce back from this tough season next year. 

 

Spartanburg also had a short run with a tough draw, having to start with TL Hanna, who beat them 10-0 and then an elimination game with Clover, who beat them 9-3. The Vikings were a stronger team this year than in 2021 and held the top spot in the region before running into a slump at a rough time. That is something that inevitably happens with a “long-season” sport like baseball. You play 3-4 times a week. Eventually, you get worn out. Especially when you are a team of teenagers. The timing was just unfortunate for Spartanburg. We will see just how much better their success for most of the season sets them up to be next year. They have a lot of talent coming up. 

 

Boiling Springs is the only one that things did go as planned/hoped for. The Bulldogs ran the table to the district 1 championship with a 3-0 shutout of Northwestern, and a convincing 7-3 win on the road at JL Mann. JL Mann came out of the elimination bracket and foiled the Bulldogs’ plans of putting them away in one game. Instead, what we got was 2 brilliant pitching performances and 2 instant classics. In game 1, the JL Mann ace pitched and went the distance, holding the Dogs to 1 run on 3 hits with 7 strikeouts. Boiling Springs kept the game close, getting out of 2 huge jams with 2 runners in scoring position with some breaks for the defense. But, just could not get clutch hits at the plate. 

 

In game 2, Tristan Smith turned in a fantastic performance, with 12 strikeouts in 5 innings with 2 hits, 3 walks, and no runs. The Bulldogs jumped on the Patriots early with a a leadoff walk, an uncaught swing and a miss at a ball in the dirt for strike 3 that got away and got the runner to 3rd, and a Jackson Reel RBI groundout. That 1-0 score held until Boiling Springs struck for 2 more runs in the 5th on a Tristan Smith RBI double and a an RBI single from David Starnes that gave them a 3-0 advantage. 

 

Then, Corben Childers entered in relief of Smith and struggled, giving up back to back hits. He was yanked without recording an out for Ashton Smith, brother of Tristan. Smith gave up a game tying 2 run single (with the runs charged to Childers) but then settled in, going an inning and a third with 2 K’s, no walks, no runs, and no runs with just the one hit. Enter the postseason moment – the hero of the night: senior infielder/pitcher Davis Starnes. 

 

Starnes came on and pitched the final ⅔ of an inning, surrendiering only a walk in a shutout frame. That earned him a win on the mound. But, the speedy young slugger had 1 more big playoff moment. 

 

With the bases loaded and 1 out, Starnes clobbered a line drive to left scoring Luke Compton, who started the rally with a 1 out walk. Starnes etched his name into legend in just about 15 minutes’ time by winning the game on the mound at at the plate. 

 

Jeff Lipscomb had this to say of his team’s performance in the game. “The character from that bunch right there is off the chain. I was proud they found a way to win. We stopped {JL Mann} and found a way to win. Both of them {Starnes and Ashton Smith} dug deep inside. We haven’t had to use them much pitching this year. This is the playoffs to go to upperstate and they pitched like they’ve been ther all year.”

 

Regarding their upcoming game with Fort Mil to open the upperstate semifinal roundl: “They won their district as a 4 seed. Their top 5 hitters are solid and they’re loaded. But, we believe in what we do and we are going to find a way to win”

 

With the district championship secured, Boiling Springs has a tall task ahead. Tristan Smith and Jackson Cole are now unavailable until at least Monday of next week after hitting pitch count limit, leaving just Landon Ellis unused. They’ll need him and someone else to step up. 

 

They will host Fort Mill Thursday night. A win will have them playing winner of Blythewood vs TL Hanna saturday in the winners bracket for a spot in the upperstate championship Wednesday. A loss, and they will have to battle back with elimination game wins on Saturday and Monday and then beat the winners bracket champion twice. 

 

Upperstate Semifinal Schedule: 

 

5A 

Thursday 

 

Fort Mill at Boiling Springs 7:00

 

Blythewood at TL Hanna TBD

 

3A 

Thursday 

 

Chapman at Seneca 6:30

 

Clinton at Powdersville 6:00 

  • Winners play saturday
  • Losers play elimination game Saturday
  • Winner of elimination game will play the team that lost the winner’s bracket game in an elimination game Monday. 
  • Winner of that elimination game will play the waiting winners bracket champ Wednesday for the upperstate championship and will have to beat them twice. 

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