Benedict, Claflin renew baseball rivalry this weekend

Orangeburg, S.C. — At this point in the season, every Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) series is just as important as the last for the Claflin University baseball team. This weekend, Claflin will face arch-rival Benedict College in another key SIAC East Divisional series on the road.

 

The series will take place over a three-day period, starting Friday (Apr. 20) in Greenville, S.C. as part of the HBCU Classic at Fluor Field (home of the Greenville Drive) at 7:30 p.m. The second game is scheduled for Sunday (Apr. 22) at Tiger Field in Columbia, S.C. with a 1 p.m.start time.

 

The series wraps up on Monday (Apr. 23) at Spirit Communications Park, home of the Columbia Fireflies, in Columbia, S.C. for the Inaugural Capital City Baseball Classic. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.

 

The three-game set carries significant importance for both teams as it relates to the divisional title. The Panthers trail first place Albany State, 10-4, in the divisional standings by a ½-game at 9-4, while Benedict holds down fourth place with a 7-7 league record.

 

Only the top four teams in the east and west divisions advance to the conference tournament, scheduled for May 3-5 in Albany, Ga.

 

Claflin is 13-26 overall following its second loss to Francis Marion this season, an 18-6 decision at Mirmow Field, on Wednesday (Apr. 18).

 

Benedict is 17-15 after splitting a non-conference doubleheader with Morris College earlier in the week.

 

The Panthers have won nine of the last 14 meetings between the two South Carolina teams, including three-of-four last season.

 

In the offensive department, Claflin is batting .281 as a team with 33 home runs.

The Panthers are led by the foursome of Darrell Langston, Johnathan Parnell II, Clyde Parker and Grayland Fowler.

 

Langston leads the team in batting at .422 along with 10 homeruns and 38 RBIs. He also tops the Panthers with 47 runs scored, 65 hits, 15 doubles and seven triples.

 

The catalyst of the team is Parnell II from his leadoff position with 33 walks. Parnell II is second on the team in hitting at .383 to go with seven homeruns and 31 RBIs. In his last seven games, Parnell II has belted four home runs and driven 11 runs.

 

Parker is third in hitting at .312 with three homeruns followed by Fowler, whose batting .302 for the season and 32 RBIs.

 

For Benedict, the Tigers are hitting .304 as a team with 35 homeruns. David White Jr. is the team leader with 15 homeruns and 47 RBIs. Joseph Macaluso is second on the team in home runs at seven and 22 RBIs.

 

In the pitching department, Claflin is led by the duo of Cleveland Westbrook and Dillon Parker. The two have combined for 10 of the Panthers’ 13 victories this season.

 

Westbrook is 6-1 on the season with 71 strikeouts in 58.2 innings of work and a 4.14 ERA.

 

Dillon Parker, this week’s SIAC Pitcher of the Week, has posted a 4-3 record that includes 59 strikeouts in 66 innings to go with a 4.77 ERA.

 

Benedict also has two effective starters in Jacob Lagos and Brian Nevils, both with four wins each.

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