Boiling Springs Clinches Region
Baseball, of all sports, is one that has a couple of things that make it unique. Up until this year, it was the only sport where there was no clock. But, aside from that, it is the only game where both teams are guaranteed a fair chance in the end. But, quite possibly the best thing about it is that while in other sports, the deepest and most talented team usually prevails, that is far from a gospel-truth when it comes to the diamond.
While in no way am I saying Spartanburg was not capable of doing the unthinkable – in fact, like most of our coaches in preseason, I believed the opposite. The Vikings are a very talented team, and that talent foundation has been there for them long before Jesse Dyar was hired as their head coach. They were a consensus to be a surprise team this year.
What I am saying is that nobody could possibly deny that the Boiling Springs Bulldogs were not the better team in this series. The Bulldogs, loaded down with seniors, – 10 of them, in fact, speed, great defense, and pitching, were poised to clinch the region this week, needing only to take the series to lock up the region championship. The question was whether or not Spartanburg would play spoiler or do what, in the words of Dabo Swinney, is only unthinkable if you don’t think it. Whatever that was supposed to mean.
Speaking of spoilers.. They did. There. After Boiling Springs’ Jackson Cole no-hit the Vikings in the series opener on Monday night, the Vikings went to Bulldog Park and spoiled the Bulldogs’ hopes of dogpiling on their home field on senior night. The game got off to a promising start for Boiling Springs as Jackson Cole tattooed a 3 run homer in the bottom of the 1st off the Vikings’ Ian Squires.
Cole added a 4th run in the 2nd with a 2 out RBI single. After back to back RBI singles cut the Dogs’ lead in half in the top of the 4th, they answered with a run in the bottom half. Spartanburg proceeded to score 5 unanswered over the final 3 innings with the big blow being a 2 out 2 RBI single from first baseman Donterian Davis. The Bulldogs went down quietly in the bottom of the 7th to fall 7-5, forcing a decisive rubber game Friday night at Duncan Park.
The series finale started in very similar fashion to game 2. The Bulldogs drew first blood on a 3 run homer out of left with 2 out from their pitcher Corben Childers. But, Spartanburg came right back at them in the bottom half of the frame and showed they were not going to just lie down and take it on the chin.
States Farr battled back from an 0-2 count to leadoff the inning with a walk. He scored from 1st when Spartanburg pitcher Tripp Darwin followed it up by hitting a trip(le) down the right field line. Catcher Garrett Fulmer added on with an RBI double to center. A bloop single loaded the bases, and a sac fly plated the tying run, making it 3-3 going to the 2nd. The tone was set for the night. It was going to be a long back and forth game and it was not going to be easy for either team. But, particularly not for the region title hopeful Bulldogs.
Spartanburg took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the 2nd on a Garrett Fulmer RBI single to score States Farr. In the 3rd, Boiling Springs worked the bases loaded with 1 out and scored the tying run on a bases loaded walk by Corben Childers. Landon Stevens put the Bulldogs in front on a sac fly to score courtesy runner Kohen Slaoand, and they carried a 5-4 lead up to the 4th when the Vikings scored 2 on an errant throw to 1st by the shortstop trying to turn a double play to go up 6-5.
After loading the bases with 2 out in the top of the 5th, Boiling Springs plated the tying run on a wild pitch, but could not reclaim the lead as Riley Douglas struck out to leave the bases full. Then came a postseason heroic type of moment.
After a leadoff single by Andrew Dantin, Corben Childers was taken down in favor of Freshman Josh Kanipe. After a sac bunt moved the go ahead run into scoring position, and a wild pitch (and a walk on the next pitch) put him on 3rd, Kanipe got Donterian Davis swinging and a fly ball to center to leave 2 on.
Kanipe pitched the remainder of the game, and ultimately shut the Vikings down, with the lone blemish the rest of the way being a 2 out double on a fly ball to left that bounced out of the left fielder’s glove after he crashed hard into the aluminum outfield wall in the bottom of the 6th.
The bats gave the Bulldogs the lead for good before that in the top of the 6th. Luke Compton used his wheels to leg out an infield single on a bunt. Hudson Wilson moved him over with a perfectly executed sac bunt. Jackson Cole grounded out to put Compton 90 feet away for Jackson Reel, who singled to score him, making for the final margin of 7-6.
Boiling Springs won the series and ultimately clinched the region despite the Vikings’ delaying it and putting together a commendable effort to win the series that really does give credibility to where they stand as a program in just the first season under Jesse Dyar. The Vikings are still playoff bound and have to be feeling confident with a chance to take down their bitter rivals in the City Rivalry series next week and take the 3rd seed.
For the Bulldogs, the deed is done. Any Byrnes loss next week to Gaffney would make the Bulldogs the outright region 2-5A champions. But, by virtue of having swept the Rebels head to head, Boiling Springs holds the tiebreaker. So, even if Byrnes sweeps Gaffney next week, the Bulldogs are the region champion