LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. -- 2016 posed to be another great season of Blowfish Baseball for Lexington County fans and Head Coach Jonathan Johnson. The Fish entered their second season at beautiful Lexington County Baseball Stadium and came off a loss in the Western Division finals of the Petitt Cup Playoffs in 2015.
Their demise came to the Gastonia Grizzlies, the team they opened up with in the 2016 campaign and the Grizz got the best of Lexington County on Opening Day in eleven innings.
After the Opening Day loss in Gastonia, the Blowfish went streaking.
Lexington County went on to win 8 of 9 games including a 14-1 rout of the Martinsville Mustangs, which was followed up the very next night with a 12-1 drubbing of the HiToms at Lexington County Baseball Stadium.
The with the highs game the lows in the 2016 season and for as many times as the Blowfish went on winning streaks, they went on long losing streaks.
Lexington County then dropped five of their last six coming into the and in all actuality it could've been a full six game losing streak if not for the utter heroics and pandemonium on June 17 at Lexington County Baseball Stadium.
The Blowfish were leading the Florence RedWolves 7-3 going into the top of the eighth inning when Florence strung together a 14 run disastrous eighth to take a 17-7 lead.
Lexington County began the comeback in the home half of the inning plating four and holding the Wolves scoreless in the top of the ninth.
The bottom of the ninth at the Lex was magical that night.
The Blowfish scored seven runs winning the game on a walk-off wild pitch just a few minutes after11 p.m. as fireworks immediately sparkled around the stadium while the Fish celebrated flinging water bottles in the air.
The Blowfish saw their Palmetto State rival five times the next week in just six days including two doubleheaders in Florence. The Blowfish went 5-3 in that week leading up to their longest road trip of the season.
Lexington County traveled the six hours up north to Edenton, which was followed by a trip to Holly Springs and then capped by a visit to Finch Field in Thomasville, N.C.
After the long trip, the Blowfish got a much needed weekend home stand for the 4th of July weekend which finished the CPL first half of the season. Lexington County finished up at 17-11 in fourth place just 2.5 games behind Asheboro for the top spot. The Blowfish were well within playoff contention entering into the second half.
However, Lexington County began the second half on a polar opposite of the first half. The Blowfish limped into the All-Star Break losing six of seven to start the second half. Their records stood at 1-6 and 18-17.
Lexington County sent four Blowfish to the ASG in Fayetteville. Chris Singleton (Charleston Southern), Adam Renwick (Clemson), Brett Auckland (Presbyterian), and Ryan Hedrick (Presbyterian) were all involved in the festivities with Auckland participating in the Home Run Derby.
Coming out of the All-Star Break the Blowfish once again hit the road for an extended road trip. The Blowfish went .500 through the next two weeks still in the mix for a playoff spot one game over .500 in the overall standings.
The big loss came in a 14-inning affair at home when the Fish welcomed in the Asheboro Copperheads. In a game they were leading by two in the top of the eighth but gave up a three run homer.
Lexington County was able to tie the game in the ninth but fell in extras and instead of maintaining a playoff spot and moving within a 1.5 games of the top spot in the overall standings, the Blowfish fell to fifth place.
The last two weeks of the season for Lexington County were a roller coaster. They continued their trend of leading late in games but gave up leads in the latter innings however they also had some big wins along the way.
Arguably the most important day of the season for the Blowfish came on July 30 when Lexington County welcomed in the Forest City Owls for two pivotal games. Game one of the doubleheader was initially scheduled for a week prior at McNair Field but lightning struck the stadium and forced the game to be pushed back to a Saturday doubleheader.
The Owls sat 3.0 games ahead of the Blowfish for the fourth spot in the CPL Western Division Overall standings and with two wins the Fish were right back in the chase.
Game one the Blowfish pulled some more heroics at the Lex scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh, two of which came on a Brett Auckland walk off bloop single. Lexington County won game one 10-9 and for the moment was two games behind Forest City with game two upcoming.
Lexington County lead in the fifth inning of game two but lost the lead on a pair of home runs from the Owls in the inning, which would end up being the difference. The Blowfish remained 3.0 games back of Forest City and was eliminated from playoff contention just four days later when the Florence RedWolves took their revenge on the Fish sweeping a doubleheader at the Lex.
While playoffs weren't in the cards for the Blowfish this season they did post some impressive numbers throughout the season. Danny Edgeworth (Mercer) posted a team best .420 batting average and at one point boasted a 14 game hitting streak. Brett Auckland knocked in 22 RBIs and blasted 3 homers. The Blowfish finished up with a 26-30 record and were atop most of the major offensive categories in the CPL Western Division thanks to consistent seasons from Chas McCormick (Millersville) and Grant Miller (Western Michigan).
2016 supplied fans, coaches, and players great memories, fun moments, and excitement and sets the table for the Fish to make a playoff run for the 2017 season. From the entire Blowfish Family enjoy the offseason and get ready for another summer of Blowfish Baseball.
We'll be seeing you down the road.