River Bluff edges Dutch Fork 4-3 in high school baseball playoffs
The opening contest in the Class 5A Lower State playoffs Thursday in The Swamp pitted region rivals River Bluff and Dutch Fork.
It played out like a typical, hard-fought Region 5-5A contest which came down to the final at-bat. In the end, the Gators edged the Silver Foxes 4-3 to advance in the winner’s bracket.
Clemson University pitching commit Ricky Williams was effective both on the mound and at the plate. He allowed just two runs and struck out four before leaving the game as Dutch Fork mounted a late rally.
Williams also had three hits and a key RBI for the Gators (21-5), who improved to 4-0 in the post-season and 3-1 this season over Dutch Fork.
“Great team win for us,” River Bluff head coach Mark Bonnette said. “Ricky gave us a great outing tonight against an excellent lineup. Both teams know each other very well, and we were just fortunate to make a few more plays than them to hold on and win.
River Bluff took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a solo home run over the leftfield fence by Cameron Ferrell off Doug Webb. An inning later, William Chastian scored from third base after the Silver Foxes botched a rundown with a throwing error into leftfield.
A sacrifice fly by Price Alexander put the Silver Foxes on the board in the Top fourth. Dutch Fork threatened again in the fifth with runners on second and third and one out, but Williams struck out Crosby Jones and Lance Fuhr flied out to centerfield.
The Gators answered in the Bottom fifth with an RBI single by Williams and Ferrell scoring on a double steal.
Down 4-1, Dutch Fork had runners on first and second with two out. Down to the last strike, Fuhr singled home Bryan Helms from third base.
Williams was replaced by Brayden Fowler who walked Alexander and threw a wild pitch to score Noah Jackson from third place. Fowler was replaced by Jack Benedict who got Jalen McDuffie to fly out to end the game.
River Bluff will play host at 1 p.m. Saturday to Summerville in the winner’s bracket, while Dutch Fork will travel to St. James to face the Sharks at 5 p.m. for the elimination game. The Green Wave defeated St. James 12-7 for their fourth straight road win.
OTHER MIDLANDS BASEBALL PLAYOFF SCORES
Gray Collegiate 5, East Clarendon 4 (8 innings)
Turner Thackston’s RBI walkoff squeeze bunt lifted the War Eagles into the winner’s bracket of the Class 2A Lower State playoffs.
Thackston finished with 2 RBI and Matt Willis and Wyatt Keisler each had 2 RBI for Gray Collegiate (21-9), which will travel to sister school Oceanside Collegiate Saturday.
Bishop England 6, Gilbert 4
The Indians fell into the loser’s bracket of the Class 3A Lower State playoffs and will play host to Aynor in the elimination game.
Midland Valley 6, Airport 2
The Eagles dropped their 3rd consecutive game to their Region 5-4A rival.
Cam Beckham, John Allen Forrester and Sam LaFrage all had two hits and Colby Key had the lone RBI for Airport. It now will head to South Aiken for an elimination game.
Blythewood 13, Fort Mill 5
The Bengals advance in the winner’s bracket of the Class 5A Upper State playoffs and will play host to J.L. Mann at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Patriots upended defending Class 5A champion Dorman 6-5 on Thursday.