Dutch Fork forces a game 3 for baseball state championship
Back to where we started. Tuesday night in Irmo, the Dutch Fork Silver Foxes took game 2 of the 5A State Championship baseball series defeating Blythewood 6-1.
The win notches the series at one game a piece, both teams winning now on their home field. The third and final game to decide the champion will be Friday at Segra Park in Columbia. It was a solid showing for the Silver Foxes, a complete team performance. Clemson commit Ty Olenchuck at times was dominant on the mound, he went the distance striking out seven and only giving up five hits. After the first inning, you could just feel this one was going to the Silver Foxes.
After sending down the Bengal hitters in order, DF brought four across the plate in the home half of the inning after loading the bases, and a lead off single Noah Jackson would reel off an RBI single to start the scoring. What’s interesting here is that DF also loaded the bases in the first inning of game Saturday but was unable to make anything of it. Dutch Fork Coach Casey Waites not only recalled that but knew how big the first runs were.
“We didn’t score runs last time in game one and you don’t want that to happen again you know. So that was super big to get out and strike first and jump up early. Let them know we can hit a little bit. Once we put that four spot up, I knew we had a chance for sure. It just gave our guys more confidence,” said Waites.
Two more runs scored after Lance Fuhr’s double to deep center brought in Bryan Helms and Jackson. Blythewood coach Banks Faulkner was well aware you don’t give good teams free bases like they did in the first. ” Tough. We gave them free bases early and credit those hitters. They got key hits tonight when they needed. They had their top guy dealing on the mound it was tough. We were chasing runs early. Momentum starts on the mound and they had it early,” he said.
The Bengals tried to preserve and maintain arms by pulling Citadel commit John Lanier early after 46 pitches and the six runs given up. He would technically be available to use Friday. Freshman Davis Wright and Kevin Steelman both pitched well in relief while Alex Cannino came in late.
This truly has been a fascinating series to watch play out. Blythewood has pretty much been at the top all year long while Dutch Fork has been a little hot and cold and finally putting it all together when the time was right. This home game made all the difference for a team that finished third in their region which put them on the road for most of the playoffs. The Silver Foxes have played six road games in this post season while the Bengals were playing their first
on Tuesday. “My motto is just keep playing and let’s see what happens. I’m super proud of this run.” Coach Waites said. “I was proud of them before this game and we’re not even at our best, still getting better. Someone is gonna win and lose on Friday but I knew these guys would show up today in front of these fans.”
The Bengals would get a run across in the second but that was all for them on the night. Olenchuck was lights out on this night and his defense behind him played much better than what they had on Saturday. In a must win situation, you want your best pitcher on the mound, the guy that’s struckout 60 guys in 50 innings. “That’s Ty being Ty.” Waites said. “We got guys that can go perform but Ty steps up like that. That was typical for him because he thrives in the big moments and games just like this.”
After the second inning, it was 5-1 and the hole was just too great for the Bengals to climb out of. And according to Faulker, it took the team out of their game plan. “Any time you face an arm like that your chances are going to be limited you know. We we got down four and five runs it took us out of what we want to do on both sides,” he said.
A sacrifice fly that scored a run in the third finished out the scoring. The only threat Blythewood really had came in the seventh with two on and College of Charleston commit Landon Lucas at the plate, but a pop-up ended the game and sent this one to an all deciding final game three.
“It’s pretty simple.” Faulkner said.”I mean if you would have told us we could be playing in game three winner-take-all, that’s baseball. That’s what it’s all about. We like our team. We like the fact that we have not lost a series all year nor have we lost more than one game in a row all season. This team is built for this and we will be ready come Friday.”
As for the winning team, Coach Casey Waites had a slew of parents and fans around him and was appreciative of the support but knows there’s still one more obstacle to cross if the Silver Foxes are going to win it all. “That’s a great team over there in Blythewood and their coach. I’m just happy for the Dutch Fork baseball family. Six years here and all these kids and alumni coming together and supporting everyone. We are going to surely enjoy this one and get ready for Friday. It’s the same for both of us, we swing the bat really well and its going to be fun to play over there.”