CHAMPION SILVER FOXES - Dutch Fork edges Blythewood 2-1 to win Class 5A baseball title
A decisive Game 3 for the S.C. High School League Class 5A title took place Friday at Segra Park between Blythewood and Dutch Fork.
The two schools had battled to a draw in the series as both looked to become state champions for the first time.
The Silver Foxes clamped down defensively, winning an unexpected 2-1 pitcher’s duel to claim the Class 5A championship over the Bengals and head coach Banks Faulkner.
Dutch Fork (24-11) took an early 1-0 lead on a passed ball in the top 2nd. Blythewood came right back in the bottom half of the inning, scoring a run on an errant pick-off throw to second base.
The Silver Foxes broke the tie in the top of the fourth inning with an RBI single by Crosby Jones that scored Noah Jackson.
Kevin Steelman came on to pitch for Blythewood with 2 on and 2 outs in the 5th, recording a big strikeout to end the inning.
Doug Webb was also pulled in the fifth inning, giving way to Sam Hatcher. Hatcher closed the door in the 5th with a 3-pitch at bat, inducing a ground ball to the first baseman that retired the Blythewood threat.
The Bengals threatened again in the 6th, but Hatcher pitched an absolute lights out relief effort for the Silver Foxes, going 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
“We’re battle tested from the conference (Region 5-5A) we’re in,” Dutch Fork head coach Casey Waites told reporters after the game. The Silver Foxes were 6-0 in elimination games this postseason.
Webb got the win for Dutch Fork, while only striking out 2 Blythewood hitters. Bryan Helms and Lance Fuhr drove in the two runs necessary for Dutch Fork to hold off the hot bats of the Bengals and deny their head coach a 4th state title.
Faulkner won as a player in 1999 and assistant coach in 2013 at alma mater Lexington and led Summerville as a head coach to the Class 4A title in 2016.
“I’ve had a blast in the playoffs,” said Waites after his ice bath courtesy of his players. “My stress level was high just trying to make the playoffs. So this was a lot of fun.”
Fun indeed as the Dutch Fork baseball team joined the football dynasty in bringing another state title to Irmo. This also marked the 3rd consecutive year a participant in the Naturchem Invitational preseason tournament has won a state title. Tournament champion A.C. Flora won the Class 4A title in 2017 and Dorman won the Class 5A title in 2018.