Blythewood Takes Care of Richland Northeast
The weather was beautiful (not an April Fool's joke either!) for a day out at Blythewood's ball field as the Bengals hosted Richland Northeast.
Blythewood would send Citadel commit Drew Ellis to the mound to face off against Ryne Maness of RNE. In the top of the 1st inning Ellis would show and mix in his breaking ball early and often by getting the first three in the order to ground out, line out, and a strikeout of Wake Forest commit Jake Mueller on three straight sliders. In the bottom half of the inning Tyler Romanik (South Carolina) would approach the plate batting in the leadoff spot and pop out to the shortstop. The next two batters Maness would face would strike out then ground out to close out a scoreless 1st inning.
Ellis would cruise through the top of the 2nd with a ground out and a couple fly outs. Blythewood would get something going in the bottom half with a leadoff walk to Aaron Dahm (USC-Lancaster), Maness would get Drew Ellis to strike out, which would lead to Walt Ballentine laying down a beautiful sacrifice bunt that forced a bad throw in to the base path and resulting in a collision at first base in which Ballentine stayed down for some time, but eventually was able to walk it off. Now with runners on first and third and one out it appeared that the safety squeeze was on and RNE catcher Shannon Glover threw to third base but Dahm was able to get back safely. A sac fly by Jacob Davis would give the Bengals the 1-0 lead. With two outs Maness was able to get a strikeout to work out of the jam, ending the 2nd with Blythewood holding a 1-0 lead.
In the 3rd a lineout by Joe Stanton was followed by a walk, and then a single by the number nine hitter Henry Taylor to right field field. Maness would help his own cause by squeezing in the runner from third successfully to tie the ballgame. Another base on balls was issued before Mueller hit in to a fielder's choice with bases loaded and two outs to end the threat. In the bottom half Romanik would lead things off with a single through the left side of the infield followed by a hard hit ball by catcher Andrew Crook. Conner Grant would hit in to a fielder's choice by beating out what could have been a double play, bringing up a first and third situation. Aaron Dahm would hit a ball straight to the third baseman with one out and Romanik would take off for home plate, but after seeing the throw beat him to the plate he decided to get back to third to avoid the throw from RNE catcher Shannon Glover. He barely "got back" which was a tough read for the umpire who is not in the best position to read the play from behind the mound. The call was argued but the result was safe and now bases are loaded with one out. A couple of infield singles(one another controversial call that brought out RNE's coach) and a bunt single later the score is 4-1 Blythewood after the 3rd.
To the top of the 4th we go and Ellis looks like he has settled in, striking out Glover and Zach Crumlich in order before getting a flyout. In the bottom half of the frame Romanik would lead off just as he did last inning and again he would get a hit to left field. He would go from first to third on a ball that got by the catcher on a hustle play. Andrew Crook would hit a bloop single just out of reach of the infielder, which brought up Grant who would bring Romanik home with a sac fly. Dahm would K and Maness would get out of the inning trailing 5-1.
RNE would strike back in the 5th with a little help from a leadoff hit by pitch. Down 5-1 Harrison Merck would sacrifice Joe Stanton over to second base. Henry Taylor would tally another hit with an infield single. Leadoff Ryne Maness would strike out on a breaking ball. Nick Gelting would come through with a two out two RBI double. Mueller would come to the plate and smoke a ball right at Ellis who was able to react in time to snag it with his glove to end the threat. Not much doing in the bottom half other than Drew Ellis hitting an infield single off the glove of the pitcher. After 5 complete it's 5-3.
Not much doing in the top of the 6th either, in the bottom half a couple singles by Jacob Davis and Justin Lang-Spittler led to Aaron Dahm's two RBI double roped in to right-center off reliever Jake Mueller to give the Bengals plenty of insurance.
The game would end on a web gem by Blythewood's second baseman who ran out to the outfield grass almost behind first base before making the throw to just get the runner.
Final: Blythewood 7 RNE 3
Tyler Romanik (South Carolina) - Not much I can say about him that hasn't been said. However, he is very heavy on the pull side right now with the bat, every game I have seen this year. I don't think pitchers are trying to pitch him inside I think he is trying to hook/pull a lot and he is so strong he's muscling balls through the infield with mostly upper-body. Would like to see him stay inside with his hands and drive through the ball more. He is one that has light-tower power, and has been hitting homeruns since middle school. Also, it looked like he got a favorable call when on third he almost ran in to an out on a ball hit to third base, definitely can't do if you're batting leadoff! I am interested to see what USC will do with him in the field as I have not seen him catch in a while.
Drew Ellis (Citadel) - Ellis showed me what he always has, that he has tools, which includes on the mound. I had him working mid 80's all night topping out at 87mph. He showed he could throw a curve and slider, slider checking in at 75mph and sharp as he used it as an out pitch many times even one strikeout on three straight sliders. He also showed a changeup, but needs a little refinement for him to trust it more. I would like to see him challenge hitters more early with the fastball and get ahead, and not show his entire pitch arsenal the first time through the lineup. At the plate I've seen him pop the ball out with good power during BP but would like to see his BP bat translate over to the game. Always shows well at showcases, the sky is the limit if he gets the intangibles and I think that will come as he develops more. I would not be surprised to hear his name called in the draft.
Andrew Crook - Showed good hustle and blocking skills behind the plate, I got him at 2.0 to 2.1 on pop times. Batted second tonight and he tallied a couple hits, one was a rope down the right field line. Shorter stature but nice compact swing from the left side. With continued hard work he should find somewhere to play after next year.
Jake Mueller (Wake Forest) - Not his best night but he had some tough plays in the field and it took him a while to get in to a groove at the plate. His first at-bat he got nothing but sliders (one looked to be outside the zone) but struck out on three straight. He would smoke one ball back up the middle but it was snagged by the pitcher as more of a self-defense reaction than anything else.
Shannon Glover - He is one of the best catching talents around. His actions are smooth and refined. Pop times were coming in at the 1.9 range. He had one play where he applied a textbook tag on a play at the plate. There was another play on a ball that got by where he did not get turned around in time or read it or maybe it was a lack of hustle, but it allowed Romanik to go from first to third. Not his best night at the plate but his defensive ability is there.
Ryne Maness - I got him at 82mph, the righty worked mostly off his breaking ball, as his first pitch of the game was a breaking ball (however Romanik is not your average leadoff hitter). His breaking ball had good depth and was upper 60's to low 70's. It's a lot to pitch and bat lead off and I think he handled himself well. You can pitch off of a low 80's fastball in high school ball if it is well placed, many pitchers have done it with less.
Something that really, really bothers me and I have seen it multiple times. When there is a check-swing and the home plate umpire asks the field umpire, who is not down the line where the bat head would be visible on the said check-swing, if he went around. With two umpires and one in the field(behind the mound) asking for help on the check-swing - number one it looks ridiculous and number two how can he see better than the home plate ump? I have seen in summer ball a left handed batter get rung up on a check swing with the only field umpire down the RIGHT FIELD line. The rules may stipulate that the home plate umpire can ask the field ump but if he's out of position it should always be safe, or "no he didn't go" if the ump is not in the position to determine how far around the head of the bat came. I guess if there were umps down both lines maybe we could appeal to both? I mean since you can appeal to the guy down the wrong line or behind the mound, maybe they can stop the game and take a vote. I just think it's the most ridiculous thing I see out of umpires currently. I can't blame the catchers for asking, if the ump that does not have the appropriate view could ring the batter up on a check swing, why not ask. Just a pet peeve of mine, I hope this is brought up with umpires at their next meeting.
More games from the midlands of SC!
Blythewood Takes Care of Richland Northeast
Author: Will Nobles
Covering baseball in Columbia, SC and beyond. Husband, teacher, coach, and enthusiast.