West Bladen boots state opener to Columbus County, 10-4

LELAND — West Bladen’s hopes for a fourth straight North Carolina Dixie Youth Pre-Majors state title took a big hit on a blistering Saturday when the Knights fell to Columbus County in the opening round, 10-4, at North Brunswick High.

The loss sets up a win or go home matchup against either Duplin County or Brunswick County on Sunday at 1 p.m.

West Bladen, now 7-5-2 overall during the summer season, went into the seventh inning knotted at 3-3 with Columbus County. But everything fell apart for the Knights, as a number of errors helped Columbus County plate seven runs and take a commanding 10-3 lead.

West Bladen began an unimaginable rally in the bottom of the seventh — Weston Pidgeon stroked a single, went to second on a passed ball and scored on a fielder’s choice RBI off the bat of Jarrett Williams, but things fizzled from there.

Trent West was superb on the hill for West Bladen, hurling the first five frames and giving up just three runs on four hits. The rising senior righthander fanned 10 batters and walked four. Trey Storms pitched the sixth inning for the Knights without any drama, but couldn’t get out of the seventh in time to avoid the miscues behind him. Storms, who was relieved by Scott Bowen, suffered the loss.

West Bladen got its early runs when it plated a run in the third behind a single from Jonathan Ashworth, who stole second and went to third on a passed ball before scoring on Pideon’s fielder’s choice.

The Knights scored again in the fourth when Bowen singled, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Caleb Sholar.

West Bladen knitted the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth when Ashworth got plunked, Pidgeon walked and Logan West reached on a bunt single to put Knights on every bag. Williams followed with a fielder’s choice to score Ashworth.