By Thomas Grant Jr.
It was eight years ago when the Blowfish baseball organization made the trek from Columbia across Lake Murray to Lexington County.
On Saturday night, the team wearing the Lake Murray Blue jerseys completed its mission of bringing a Coastal Plain League title to the county and region. The Blowfish defeated the Wilmington Sharks 7-5 in the deciding game of the Petitt Cup final.
Gilbert native Ashby Vining’s 2-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning broke a 5-5 tie. The Sharks had the tying run on base with two outs when Ryan Ouzts, also of Gilbert, caught the final out for the victory.
Vining finished with four RBI, including a home run, to lead Lexington County. Ironically, he drove in three RBI and had two home runs for Gilbert in the deciding game of the 2021 Class 3A final against West Oak.
Zach Cowart, who won a Class 5A title with River Bluff in May, went 2-4 with an RBI.
This was the second CPL title won in organization history. The Blowfish were crowned champions in 2012 and finished runner-up the following year.
Lexington County earned its first championship series berth at its new home earlier in the week after rallying from a 0-1 deficit in the West Division playoff series against Forest City. It won the next two games by a combined score of 19-1 to advance to the Petitt Cup final.
It was déjà vu for the Blowfish as it dropped the series opener at Wilmington. On Friday, Lexington County defeated Wilmington 7-4 to even the series.
Phillip Ard went 2-4 with two RBI and a home run and Andrew Duval struck out three in 5 2/3 innings for the win.
In Game Three Saturday, the Blowfish jumped out to a 4-0 lead. The Sharks got within 5-2 when play was halted due to rainfall in the fifth inning.
Following the 90-minute delay, Wilmington scored three runs in the Top 7th to tie the game. It came down to the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded when Vining lined the double into the outfield to bring home the go-ahead runs.
“I’ve been in baseball for 40 years and I’m telling you, you’re the greatest team I’ve ever had,” said Lexington County co-owner Bill Shanahan told the team in the post-game ceremony. “You guys are the best.”
Lexington County finished the season with a 32-20 overall record.