LongBeach starting pitcher Eli Hodges wasn’t necessarily overpowering against home-standing Vancleave Tuesday night, as the two teams open their Class 5A South State playoffs series.
But he was certainly too powerful for the Bulldogs’ bats to handle.
Hodges, a senior, tossed a complete game and got the win as the Bearcats took a 4-1 decision over VHS in game one of the best-of-three series at “The Landing”. Game two is set for Friday night at Mike Rutledge Field in Long Beach, and the Bulldogs need a win to keep their season alive.
Hodges hurled the Bearcats to the win, which was Long Beach’s first playoff victory in two seasons, as he allowed six hits, struck out five and walked three but more importantly kept the Bulldogs to just the lobe run that came in the third frame.
By the time the Bulldogs scored, the Bearcats had built an early 2-0 lead with a single run in each of the first and third innings. Ashton Schepens opened the contest getting hit by a pitch from VHS starter Hunter Parker, and scored two batters later when Hunter Blackwell singled through the left side of the infield.
Long Beach doubled that advantage to 2-0 in much the same fashion two at-bats later, and again thanks to some base-running and timely hitting by Schepens. Parker plunked him once again to lead off the frame, and Schpens then proceeded to steal second and took third on a Bulldog miscue. Nathan Kenworthy’s RBI-ground out to first minutes later made it 2-0.
Vancleave cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the stanza, as Asher Heney singled and then scored on sophomore Hunter Harper’s RBI-double to make it 2-1.
But Hodges wouldn’t budge after that, finishing the game by blanking the Bulldogs over the next four frames.
His teammates provided Hodges with some insurance, as Will Brady singled and scored in the fifth and Wesley Watson added a run-scoring single in the seventh stanza to complete the scoring.
Hodges’ efforts on the hill have Long Beach in position to advance to the second round of the state playoffs for the first time in four years. They can do so with a win on either Friday night at home or Saturday afternoon back in Vancleave.
Blackwell collected three hits including a double to lead Long Beach at the plate, while Watson chipped in a pair of hits to the winning attack including the RBI-Single. W.P. Bermudez added a double.
Henley also had three hits to pace VHS, one of which was a double, while Harper added a pair of hits including the run-scoring double as well.
Parker also threw a complete game in taking the loss, allowing eight hits and striking out five while walking just one.