Boiling Springs to Play for Upperstate
The 2008 Boiling Springs Bulldogs baseball team had a certain persona about them. They were nicknamed “The Cardiac Dogs” – a name that was a perfect summary of their magical playoff run that season in which they came out of the elimination bracket on 2 different occasions – in both the district and upperstate rounds, eventually going on to defeat Conway 5-1, claiming the school’s first-ever state championship in a boys’ team sport.
That 2008 team and this year’s squad have one thing in common besides a flair for dramatic comebacks.
The original “Cardiac Dogs” featured 3 seniors that played a major role, leading both on and off the field. Jimmy Revan, Jeffrey Campbell, Josh Pless, etc all helped make for several dramatic comebacks, and were undoubtedly the leaders of their team. With the 2023 edition, Jackson Cole, Corben Childers, Hudson Wilson, and Luke Compton have consistently provided a spark for their team with incredible pitching performances and big plays at the plate as well as by picking their teammates up off the field.
Monday night, with the season once again on the line, the Bulldogs leaned on those 4 guys and managed to punch their ticket to face Blythewood on Wednesday night for the 5A upperstate championship, which drew the praise of Boiling Springs Head Coach Jeff Lipscomb.
“Everybody in the school knows that those 3 guys [Wilson, Compton, and Jackson Cole] are not only top athletes but top students and they have great character. With those 3 leading the way, they refuse to lose. Everybody looks at our seniors, and starting with those 3, you can’t beat them. They’re just 3 top notch kids and you can’t say much more about those guys except that they’re very special.”
Jackson Cole was given the ball for the ‘Dogs, and put together what was arguably a bigger game than the complete game no-hit shutout he threw against Spartanburg in the opener of their final region series. Cole gave the Bulldogs 7 solid innings, surrendering just 1 unearned run on 6 hits with 3 walks and 10 strikeouts.
The lone blemish of the night was when he walked the leadoff man in the top of the 7th. He would end up coming around to score thanks to a sac bunt where the Bulldogs had nobody covering 3rd, allowing the runner to go 1st to 3rd. He scored on an RBI single with 2 out.
“We did not execute on the sacrifice bunt. We had nobody covering 3rd, and we were all caught up in the game. We got 2 outs and they got a bloop hit, but other than that, he [Cole] was so good all night long. The boy competes. He got his curveball working in the 2nd or 3rd inning and it was lights out from there”, said Lipscomb.
Down 1-0, just like the 2008 team needed Josh Pless and Josh Stevens to help them beat Easley to move on to the 4A upperstate title game, the Bulldogs offense needed a spark from an unlikely source, turning to Chansen Cole, who was being DH’d for while playing 2nd base, to come in and pinch hit with the tying run on 1st.
Cole got a hanger and absolutely blasted it to left field, off the bat, appearing to have hit a walkoff 2 run homer. Instead, the ball died and hit off the fence, which paired with the left fielder’s violent collision with the wall, led to a game-tying triple.
The Bulldogs’ hopes of walking it off in regulation were soon dashed when Jeff Lipscomb decided to try and have Titus Hutchins lay down a squeeze bunt. With Cole charging down the line, Hutchins pulled his bat back on a low pitch, resulting in Chansen being picked off at 3rd for the 2nd out. The very next pitch, Hutchins grounded to the shortstop to take the game to extra innings.
Jackson Cole returned to the bump to start the 8th, but walked the leadoff man, putting him near his pitch limit. He was taken down for freshman Josh Kanipe, who came in and got a huge pickoff, a foul out to 1st, and a strikeout to send the game to the bottom of the 8th.
With 1 out, Luke Compton started the game-winning rally with a single. On a hit and run, Justin Dawkins followed it with a single that put men on the corners for Hudson Wilson, who took the 2-2 pitch high and deep to right center. It dropped and 1-hopped the fence to score Compton and win it 2-1.
Asked his final thoughts on the game, Lipscomb had this to say.
“We like to make it interesting in Boiling Springs. Our kids could have quit when we went down 1-0. We could have quit, but this shows what kind of leadership we have. They are holding on to the rope. That’s our motto. We get to play some more baseball on Wednesday and we are excited just to have an opportunity to play for an upperstate championship. Blythewood is very talented, but we belong there. We are not looking up to them. That is what we preach. We don’t look up to anybody. Our focus is on ourselves. We believe in ourselves and we’re just gonna fight to the end. Blythewood is good, but we are as well, and we are deserving to go there. We have done it before, and our plan is to do it again and move on to the state championship.”
The Upperstate Championship will be this Wednesday night starting at 5:00. The Bulldogs will need to beat Blythewood twice to punch their ticket to the 5A state championship series.