A seven-run top of the ninth doomed the Blowfish during their 10-4 loss to the Owls.
A ninth inning that saw the Lexington County Blowfish (1-1) walk four batters, hit two with pitches, surrender two doubles and a single and culminated in seven runs ultimately doomed the home team and resulted in a 10-4 loss to the Forest City Owls. It was the 1-1 team's first loss of the season.
Things didn’t look ideal in the top of the first for the Blowfish either as the Owls jumped out all over starting pitcher Carson Starnes. Owls centerfielder Reed Blasczyk crushed an RBI double off the wall in left field to score the game’s opening run. A hard hit, broken bat infield single by Dylan Koontz scored the second Owl run and an RBI single past second base brought in the third. All in all, the Owls collected four hits, scored three runs and got up 3-0 before the Blowfish had a chance to bat.
Lexington County, however, managed to slowly chip away at the lead. In the first inning, Dariyan Pendergrass led off with a free pass to first after a pitch hit his right foot. Pendergrass then proceeded to steal second and third base. He was eventually brought home after Dalton Reeves’ ground ball in the infield brought him home. After the first, the Blowfish cut the deficit to 3-1.
The Blowfish did the same thing in the second inning. Sawyer Reeves led off the inning with a walk and then stole second base. A hard hit ground ball single by Blake Martin brought Reeves to third and a wild pitch by Owls pitcher Austin Hunley scored him and brought the Blowfish within one run early on.
The top of the fourth inning saw some controversy as Owls shortstop Clay Badylak’s single was negated after it was ruled by the umpires that he used an illegal bat. Per a source in the Owls dugout, Badylak used a Baum branded bat (historically known as an almost unbreakable bat) that isn’t approved for use in the Coastal Plain League.
In the bottom of the fourth, Sawyer Reeves helped score more Blowfish runs. His two-out single followed by a Martin base hit and a Wells Sykes RBI double tied the game up at three.
The Blowfish comeback was complete in the bottom of the seventh when Pendergrass led off the inning with a double after some clever base running. He was eventually brought in to score following a Patrick Matthews single. Matthews, however, was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double but the damage was done and for the first time all night, the Blowfish led by a score of 4-3.
After the rough first inning, Starnes calmed down and got through five innings while relief pitcher Slaide Naturman came in and was lights out, not giving up a single run in his three innings of action.
“Give credit to Carson Starnes. Rough first inning but then really settled in and gave us a quality start and then Slaide through really really well,” Blowfishhead coach KC Brown said after the game. “I was really excited but that was about as far as we wanted to go with both of them with it being their first outing. So I was pleased, we were coasting and like I said, we outplayed them through all those middle innings.”
While Brown reasonably believed his team outplayed the Owls after eight innings given their 4-3 lead, they still needed to get three more outs in the ninth. That’s where the game was decided.
Joshua Topper came into the game to close things out on the mound. He struck out the first batter, but after that, he walked two straight batters, through a wild pitch to advance the runners and hit the next batter to load the bases. He was pulled for fellow reliever Beau Ross. Ross experienced similar struggles as he hit the first batter he faced which scored the tying run. He then walked the next two batters which gave the Owls a 6-4 advantage. After the walks, the Owls bats brought in more runs with a single and two doubles to give them a commanding 10-4 lead.
Matthews managed to get on base in the bottom of the ninth but that’s all the Blowfish could muster as they fell 10-4 for the first loss of the season.
“Everything that kinda could go wrong went wrong,” Brown said after the loss. “It was tough. We outplayed them for eight innings and they outplayed us for one inning but that inning made a difference. We had scripted where certain guys were up today ready to pitch and I’m glad they got that opportunity. But yeah, just wish they could have come through for us.”
The Blowfish have a quick chance for redemption as they travel to Macon, Georgia June 2 to face the Macon Bacon. They’ll return home on Saturday June 3 to face the Bacon again.
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