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Boiling Springs Opens Dorman Series With Win

The Boiling Springs Bulldogs and Dorman Cavaliers both enter the 2024 baseball season in interesting situations. In the preseason rankings, the Cavaliers were ranked just a spot ahead of the Bulldogs in 7th place, picked as the favorite in region 2-5A. That is understandable, given where these 2 programs stood after last season. After making a run all the way to the 5A upperstate championship, where Blythewood overcame a 6-0 hole to beat them, Boiling Springs said goodbye to a load of talented seniors including ace pitcher Jackson Cole, speedy center fielder Luke Compton, first baseman/pitcher Corben Childers, 2nd baseman/pitcher Jackson Reel, Catcher Hudson Wilson, Left Fielder Rylee Douglas, etc.


On the other side of the coin, the 2023 Cavaliers were a talented yet very young team that featured several sophomores and juniors, including 2nd baseman Palmer Hornick, third baseman Campbell Whitener, shortstop Colton Earnhardt, center fielder Noah McGarity, Catcher/1B/Pitcher Grayson Morton, and Right Fielder Mitchell Powell. That team, which went .500 on the season and finished 3rd in the region before being eliminated in the district round by Clover in the playoffs, now has experience to add to the talent, and that makes them a team to watch out for. 


For the second consecutive year, these 2 squads would open their region slate with a crucial series that would give both a chance to validate themselves and gain a huge early advantage in the standings race. The series opener featured an intriguing pitching matchup, with the Cavaliers sending freshman Connor Wells to the hill. Connor did a good job of keeping the Bulldogs’ bats at bay, at least at first. 


Boiling Springs, despite their losses from a year ago, have proven that they can still score runs in bunches and produce huge innings. They scored an average of nearly 9 runs per game over the course of their 4-0 run to the Steve Sanders Tournament championship. In the championship game, they found themselves down 8-1 to Gaffney before putting together a 6 run sixth inning to take the lead for good. In their first regular season game, they shut Woodruff out 9-0. The Bulldogs have seemingly not missed a beat. Yet Wells kept them off the scoreboard for an inning and two thirds, striking out five in the process. 


BSHS countered with their ace Chansen Cole, who did not get off to an ideal start. In the bottom of the 1st, he surrendered a 1 out double to Clay Crossley that was booted for an E8 by BSHS center fielder Kyle Patterson, allowing Crossley to take 3rd. After a pop up to right for the 2nd out, catcher Mitch Wilson lifted a no-doubter to left for a 2 run blast and the early lead. 


Even though Wells logged 5 K’s, Boiling Springs got him into several deep counts. Five of the first 6 hitters he faced saw 5 or more pitches per at bat, and eventually, the mounting pitch count came back to bite him. After a couple of strikeouts to start the 2nd, he walked the next 3 to load the bases for Boiling Springs second baseman Landon Stevens, who took the 2-2 pitch out of right field for a grand slam and the 4-2 lead, ending Wells’ night. 


“Connor (Wells) is gonna have a lot of teams’ numbers. I think he is the number 1 left handed pitcher in his age group. He is the type of pitcher every coach dreams about. He is tall. He throws hard and he has a three pitch arsenal. We just told our kids to battle and hang in. He walked three, and luckily, Landon Stevens was able to barrel one up and give us the lead”, said Boiling Springs Head Coach Jeff Lipscomb. 


Dorman responded with 2 more runs in the bottom of the 2nd after Campbell Whitener, Aaron Sturgill, and Jackson Pruitt each reached to start the frame. Clay Crossley delivered a 2 out 2 run single to tie the game at 4, which held up until the game was all but decided in the top of the 4th. 


Boiling Springs second baseman Kai Lee led off with a walk off Dorman reliever Noah McGarity. Landon Stevens followed it with his 2nd hit of the night – a double blooped just inside the left field line, and Justin Dawkins was intentionally walked after getting ahead 3-0 to load the bases. After Dorman dug deeper into the bullpen and brought in Aaron Sturgill, Titus Hutchins greeted him with an RBI single to put the Bulldogs ahead for good. Boiling Springs went on to plate 3 more on a Chansen Cole sac fly and a couple of wild pitches, making for an 8-4 lead that held until the bottom of the 7th. 


Dorman got 2 on to start the inning via back to back base hits off Boiling Springs reliever Luke Merchant. After Clay Crossley moved both into scoring position with an unassisted groundout to 1st, Colton Earnhardt hit a grounder to short that was booted for an E6, plating 2 more runs for the Cavaliers. A dropped pop up to shallow right and a single got the tying run aboard with 2 out, but ultimately, Bulldog closer Josh Kanipe came in and struck out pinch hitter Ian Thomas looking to put the seal on the 8-6 series-opening victory. 


“It was a tough game between 2 teams that are rivals. I have the utmost respect for Dorman, Coach Jolley, and his bunch. They are going to battle down to the end. They had the tying runs on base and we were just very fortunate to win this game”, said Coach Lipscomb. 


Chansen Cole earned the win by settling in very nicely after the first 2 innings, allowing just 4 runs – 3 earned – on 7 hits with 11 strikeouts and 2 walks in 6 innings pitched – a performance that is a good sign for Boiling Springs given Chansen’s recent struggles.


“Chansen did a good job. He got better as the game went along and at the end of the game, he was tough to hit. He got hurt last year and had some arm problems. I hate that for him because he is a great kid and he works hard. He is bound and determined to have a great senior year. He is a leader and it is good to see good things happen to kids like that. I am proud of him”, said Lipscomb. 


The Bulldogs were led at the plate by Landon Stevens, who was 2 for 4 with 4 RBIs, all of which came on his grand slam, as well as 2 runs scored. Titus Hutchins and Chansen Cole were the only 2 others to tally an RBI for the Dogs with 1 each. 


“Landon is gritty and hard-nosed. He is a kid you want on your side because he will battle for all 7 innings. He has great hands, a quick bat, and he has a chance to play at the next level. I really believe that”, said Coach Lipscomb. 


Clay Crossley led the way for Dorman, going a perfect 4 for 4 with 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored. Mitch Wilson was 1-4 at the plate, also with a pair of runs batted in and a run scored. Jackson Pruitt came across twice on a 2-3 night at the dish. 


With the Bulldogs holding the series lead and looking to clinch, it will swing over to Bulldog Park on Wednesday night with first pitch set for 6:30. The finale will be back at Sims Field in Roebuck on Friday night, also with a 6:30 start. 

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