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Boiling Springs

Playoff Round-Up

It is hard to believe that after a week, the 2024 high school baseball playoffs are nearly half over. Entering the “district round”, 10 of the schools in our coverage area were in. Following is a rundown of what happened over the past week by classification and district.

 

5A district 1:

The resurgent Spartanburg Vikings were placed into this district with some tough competition to contend with. This district featured Lexington, who has been one of the top teams on the 5A level all season as well as a perennial power in the TL Hanna Yellow Jackets. Spartanburg opened on the road at Lexington, suffering an immediate setback by falling 12-2. Facing elimination, the Vikings have bounced back to punch their ticket to the district final on Monday night with consecutive victories. On Thursday, they defeated TL Hanna 3-2. The second elimination game that was originally scheduled for Saturday, in similar fashion to all but one of the games set for Saturday, was bumped up to Friday night. The Vikings eliminated Rock Hill 7-1 to advance.

 

Now, Spartanburg will make a return trip to Lexington, who emerged as the undefeated team in the bracket, on Monday night. They will have a tall task ahead of them, needing to beat the Wildcats twice in order to move on to the upperstate round as the district champion.

 

5A district 2:

Boiling Springs was placed into this district, which featured one of the top 5 teams in the state at the 5A level as its favorite to move on – Fort Mill. The 2nd-seeded Bulldogs opened Tuesday night by hosting the three seed Dutch Fork Silver Foxes at Bulldog Park. One of Boiling Springs’ biggest positives for the season was put on full display in the contest as well as their glaring downsides.

 

The positive is that their ace Chansen Cole continued to put on ace-level performances. Cole was efficient, working into the 9th inning of the extra inning affair and surrendering just 2 earned runs. The first glaring negative was that the Bulldogs’ bats, which have been a roller coaster all season, went cold at the worst time. They got off to a great start with a 2 run homer from senior right fielder Justin Dawkins in the 1st inning. From that point on, they left 4 base runners on and went in order in all but 3 of the next 9 innings. That paired with a rough outing in relief from Josh Kanipe and Logan Merchant led to Dutch Fork jumping to a 6-2 lead in the top of the 10th inning, which would hold as the final.

 

Forced to the elimination bracket, BSHS would once again get home field as they took on Woodmont on Thursday night. This game was a quick pitcher’s duel that showcased the potential of a young man that emerged as a solid #2 arm for the Bulldogs over the last few weeks of the season – Cathen Cole (not to be confused with Chansen). Cathen threw all 7 innings in the battle, striking out 6, walking 2, and getting the shutout despite having a runner or 2 in scoring position in 5 of those innings. The Bulldogs’ would get a stroke of good luck late as center fielder Kyle Patterson helped capitalize on a couple of 2 out singles by hustling out a walkoff infield single on a hard chopper to short for the 1-0 win, setting up a Friday night road trip to Fort Mill for another elimination game.

Fort Mill, who was upset by Dutch Fork 4-3 Thursday, jumped on Boiling Springs’ beleaguered pitching early with a 9-spot in the bottom of the 1st to respond to a solo shot from Justin Dawkins in the top of the frame. That home run would be all the offense the Bulldogs could muster, as Fort Mill cruised to the 11-1 win to eliminate Boiling Springs. Now Fort Mill must go to Dutch Fork Monday night and win twice to advance.

 

5A district 3:

Despite being swept with a couple of games that got away from them late in their rivalry series with Byrnes that dropped them from 2nd with a chance to win the region to the 4 seed, the Cavaliers came on strong in their run through the district round. Dorman had to go on the road each time as a 4 seed, facing perennial 5A powers such as Blythewood and Hillcrest. The Cavs opened on Tuesday by upsetting Blythewood 7-1, and followed it up with a 9-5 win at Hillcrest Thursday. Dorman emerged as the undefeated team in the district and will now host the district championship game on Monday night, which will be a rematch with Blythewood.

 

Dorman needs just one win to advance to the upperstate round.

 

5A district 4:

Second-year James F Byrnes Head Coach Taylor Hollifield made a point of mentioning they had 1 goal set for this season after the Rebels won their first region title in 12 years last Monday in their opener with Dorman. That simple goal was to win the region. But, that team, which had not been swept or lost a series all season long, was easily the favorite to cruise on to the next round.

 

But, it’s the playoffs. So, what should happen never does.

 

The Rebels started strong, defeating Upperstate At-Large bid winner Gaffney 12-3. That game got off to a rocky start, as ace Jake Short gave up 3 runs in the top of the 1st. But, he settled in nicely from there and allowed the bats to do what they have been all season long.

 

In the 2nd game, the Rebels took on JL Mann. The offense was stymied in that one as the Patriots claimed the 6-3 road victory. That loss set up an elimination bracket final that would be a game for the ages.

 

The Byrnes-Gaffney rivalry is fun regardless of sport. It is especially intense when something is on the line. This wild game was no exception. After staving off elimination by picking up their first playoff win in 9 years in a 6-1 win at Clover on Thursday night, the Indians jumped to an early 6-3 lead in the 2nd inning. Byrnes rallied back to cut it to a 1-run game on an E6 throwing error in the bottom of the frame. In the 5th inning, Gaffney held a 4 run lead at 9-5, but once again in the bottom of the stanza, Byrnes trimmed the deficit to 2 on a 2 run single from Connor Crenshaw. In the next half-inning, Gaffney answered runs with runs by plating 4 of their own to make it 13-7. Byrnes mustered just one in the bottom of the 7th as the resurgent Indians picked up their 2nd straight playoff win and eliminated Byrnes 13-8.

 

Gaffney now must go to JL Mann Monday night and needs to win twice to claim the district title and move on to the upperstate round.

 

4A:

The 4A bracket is set up differently, using a 2-bracket seed-based playoff rather than by dividing into 4-team districts. Greer entered as the #6 seed paired with 11-seed Lancaster. They suffered a setback in that game, falling 12-3 on Monday. But since then, they have staved off elimination twice with a pair of 4-2 wins – one over Aiken and the other on the road at Airport.

 

They will face elimination once more Monday night as they host cross-town and in-region rival Riverside. Should they win that, they will need one more win to emerge from the elimination bracket. They would take on the loser of the winners bracket final between Indian Land and Easley. Hypothetically speaking, if they win both, they would have to defeat whoever comes out of the winners bracket twice to advance to the upperstate championship series.

 

3A district 1:

This is the first instance we have had of 2 of the teams in our coverage area being placed into the same district. It featured Broome and Woodruff along with Crescent and Fountain Inn. Broome opened on Tuesday night with Crescent, and fell 3-2. Woodruff also slipped in their opener with Fountain Inn 7-4, setting up an elimination game between the Wolverines and Centurions on Thursday.

 

Woodruff ultimately eliminated Broome with a 6-2 win, while the Wolverines advanced to another elimination battle on Friday. Crescent was defeated 5-4 by the Fury on Thursday night, making for a trip to Crescent on Friday for the Wolverines. Woodruff managed to come out of the elimination bracket by knocking off the Tigers 7-3, and now must go to Fountain Inn Monday night, needing two wins to advance to the upperstate round as district champion.

 

3A district 3:

We did not have any teams in district 2. But, in D3, Union County had a tough bracket to go through. Heavy favorite to win the 3A upperstate title Blue Ridge, perennial contender Belton- Honea Path, as well as Pendleton. Despite that, Union County turned some heads.

 

The Yellow Jackets opened with BHP on Tuesday to the tune of a 3-2 win, setting up a tough road trip to the foothills to take on Blue Ridge. The Tigers started Mason Tompkins on the bump, who is the ace on a staff where literally every arm could hold that distinction. It is not easy to defeat the Tigers in their place, much less overcome that and Tompkins, but Union found a way with a 6-4 upset win on Thursday night.

 

That win puts Union in the driver’s seat to win the district. Blue Ridge staved off elimination by beating BHP Friday night 4-0. Now, they will have to come to Timken Sports Complex and beat the Jackets twice just to advance and keep their expectations a potential reality.

 

 

3A district 4:

The region 3-3A runner up Chapman Panthers found themselves placed in this bracket with Seneca, Emerald, and Powdersville. The Panthers opened with a home contest Tuesday against the Seneca Bobcats, falling 2-1. In the elimination bracket, they faced Emerald on Thursday night where unfortunately the season came to an end following a heartbreaking 1-0 loss.

 

The district final on Monday will come down to the favored Powdersville Patriots and Seneca, with the Pats needing just 1 win to advance.

 

2A district 1:

Only 2 of the 4 districts in the 2A bracket featured one of our teams. In D1, the region 1-2A champion Chesnee Eagles opened on Tuesday night with a tilt against 4-seeded Ninety Six. The Wildcats upset the Eagles at Dean Jones Stadium 7-6, forcing the Eagles to have to play their way out of the elimination bracket.

 

Thursday night, Chesnee hosted 3-seed WJ Keenan and beat them 5-2 to stay alive, setting up another elimination game Friday night as the eagles would welcome a rematch with Ninety-Six. Unfortunately, that rematch had the same result with the Wildcats taking a 10-2 decision, ending Chensee’s season.

 

The district championship Monday will be between Ninety Six and Strom Thurmond, with ST in the catbird seat needing 1 win to move on.

 

2A district 2:

The Landrum Cardinals finished the regular season redder than their primary school color. They had won 4 of their last 5 games, notably beating Woodruff, Broome, and Polk County in that stretch. A lot of that is because they finally got to a point where everyone was healthy – most notably staff ace Titus Poore, who is also a key part of the lineup. They came in as the 3 seed, meaning they would open on the road at Fairfield Central. The Cards did not have much of an issue, beating the Griffins 9-1 to lock up Head Coach Justin Henson’s first-ever playoff win.

 

The jubilation would be short-lived as Landrum fell in their 2nd game to Mid Carolina in shutout fashion 5-0. Now facing elimination, the Cardinals must beat Pelion, who lost to Mid Carolina 7-3 Tuesday in their opener and knocked off Fairfield Central 10-5 in the first elimination game.

 

The elimination game between the Cards and Panthers was originally slated for noon Saturday, but weather forced a postponement, meaning they will play on Monday night at 6:00 at Landrum.

 

Once all the district round games are complete Monday night, the double elimination upperstate playoff round begins on Friday, May 9th.

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