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Boiling Springs

Bulldogs and Rebels Split First Two Games

After passing a tough test last week and taking 2 from Dorman in one of the three most important series to be played in region 2-5A, the road would not get any easier for the Boiling Springs Bulldogs, as they would have to face the region-leading James F Byrnes Rebels.

 

Things got off to the best start possible for them in the opener on Monday night at Bulldog Park. The Bulldogs hung a 5 spot in the bottom of the 2nd inning, which was more than enough to secure the win, as the combination of Chansen Cole and Mason Shuford combined to surrender just a walk and 2 hits, both of which came from Byrnes center fielder Nic Degler, in a 5 inning/7 strikeout shutout affair. On the offensive side of things, 8 different hitters logged an RBI. Led by Emory Horton, who was 2 for 4 with a pair of singles, an RBI, and a run scored. Justin Dawkins was also strong, going 2 for 4 with a double, a single, an RBI, and 2 runs scored as the Bulldogs cruised to the 10-0 run rule victory in 5 innings.

 

How do you respond to a game like that if you are Byrnes?

 

“We sat down on the bus and told them it obviously wasn’t our night. We gave up 10 runs, only one earned. They know that is not our game and that is not what we do. Pitching and defense are big emphases for us. I told them not to let the moment get too big and focus on what is there”, said Byrnes head coach Taylor Hollifield.

 

It was that pitching and defense Hollifield referenced plus some timely clutch hitting that ultimately helped to potentially turn the tide of the series on Wednesday night.

 

The Rebels sent Senior Jake Short to the hill to oppose Boiling Springs righty Kyle Dill. Both pitchers got off to shaky starts, and both settled in nicely. However, it was Short that managed to escape the biggest jam early – an omen of how the remainder of the game would go.

 

Landon Stevens led off the game with a single, only to be erased when Justin Dawkins grounded to short, erasing Stevens 6-4 on the fielder’s choice. After another base hit from Titus Hutchins, Chansen Cole drove in the game’s first run with a single of his own. With 2 out, the Bulldogs threatened to score again after Lucas Morrison drew a walk to load the bases. Short would escape the jam with just the one run allowed by getting Kyle Patterson to ground out to 2nd, leaving the sacks full.

 

The Rebels’ bats responded in the bottom half of the inning almost immediately. Right fielder Jaxson Camp laced a sinking liner to center that dropped past a diving Kyle Patterson and rolled for a leadoff triple. From there, Dill struggled to find his command, getting to deep counts to each of the next 3 hitters. All three reached – Nic Degler on a walk, Connor Crenshaw on an error, and Payne Sheriff on a fielder’s choice, leading to the Rebels taking a 2-1 lead before Dill bounced back with back to back ground balls to get out of the inning.

 

Jake Short settled in nicely, not facing trouble again until the 5th inning. With 1 out, he gave up three straight singles to Justin Dawkins, Titus Hutchins, and Chansen Cole. Emory Horton grounded to short for a fielder’s choice play, which erased Cole 6-4. However, Justin Dawkins scored on the play that resulted in a strange double play to retire the side. Dawkins beat the rap on the throw to 1st, but in the chaos, Titus Hutchins tried to break for home to steal a 2nd run. The 1st baseman Payne Sheriff made a quick throw to the plate to get Hutchins with ease despite a standing collision with the catcher, getting Short out of the jam.

 

Short escaped trouble once more in the 7th inning with minimal damage after giving up a leadoff single to Landon Stevens and hitting Justin Dawkins. Titus Hutchins grounded back to the mound for a 1-6-3 double play. Chansen Cole lifted a deep fly ball to left center field that had it  not been for the late evening chill and dampening air, might have been a 2 run homer. Instead. It dropped in the gap for an RBI double. Short would rebound by getting Emory Horton to strike out looking on a nasty changeup at the bottom of the zone to seal the 6-3 victory for the Rebels.

 

“Jake Short is one of a kind. He is a competitor. He is a bulldog. He is a guy that when I roll him out there, I know we have a chance to be in every ballgame. He is gonna pitch to both sides of the plate. I have a lot of trust in him. He is a vocal leader and when he is not pitching, he is behind the plate. The ball is always in his court, whether it is pitching or catching and I am proud of him”, said Coach Hollifield.

 

Jake Short’s superb outing – a complete game in which he scattered 11 hits with a walk and 4 strikeouts, was complemented by Payne Sheriff, who went 1 for 2 at the plate with a walk and 3 RBIs.

 

“Payne has been big all year. He is hitting well over .400. During a mound visit, I told him not to be too big and just do you. He toned it down and he was huge. Normally he is our DH, but our typical 1st baseman went down, so he stepped in and didn’t miss a beat. He is someone that is an anchor in the 4 hole and when he faces a big situation, he is gonna get the job done”, said Hollifield.

 

Nic Degler was 2 for 3 with a pair of singles, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. Jaxson Camp was a key contributor as well, going just 1-2 at the dish with a triple, but also adding 3 walks and 3 runs scored. That kind of group effort and composure excites Coach Hollifield.

 

“The thing I love about this group is that there are no massive names. You look at our roster- there are not a lot of D-1’s. We preach being a ‘blue collar program’. Do what you can, know what you’re doing, know the process, and don’t try to be something you’re not. That group does a fantastic job of knowing their role. We didn’t have a lot of hits, but we had timely hitting. That’s something that group does. They know what they need to do and they stay composed throughout.”

 

For the Bulldogs, Kyle Dill took the loss, going 4 innings with 3 runs (1 earned) on 2 hits with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts.

Lucas Morrison didn’t retire a batter in relief, walking a pair with a single in between. All three of those runs scored- 2 earned off 2 hits and a balk off of Logan Merchant. Offensively, Chansen Cole was 3 for 4 with a pair of singles, a 2 bagger, and an RBI while Emory Horton went 1-3 with a single and an RBI.

 

The series now turns back to Bulldog Park Thursday night for a crucial rubber match with sole possession of 1st place in the region on the line, and Hollifield says that he is confident that if they keep doing the little things well, they can win it.

 

“I told the team that even though we evened the series, it really doesn’t matter going into tomorrow. Boiling Springs has just as much at stake as we do. You have to execute the fundamentals, do the little things, and do what is expected. The great stuff will come, but you have to take a breath, relax, and just play the game.”

 

First pitch for the finale is set for 6:30 PM.

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