Catawba Ridge’s Peyton Dhein throws a pitch during the Copperheads game Tuesday in the Upper State series.

Left-hander Peyton Dhein gave up just three hits over the course of six innings to help the Catawba Ridge Copperheads secure a 4-0 win over the Laurens Raiders in Game 1 of the 4A Upper State baseball series Tuesday night.

Dhein struck out four batters and gave up two walks during his time on the mound before reliever Caden Glauber shut the door with a groundout and back-to-back strikeouts to cap off the shutout. 

The two teams will contest Game 2 Thursday evening at Laurens High School. The winner of the best-of-three series will take on either South Florence or North Myrtle Beach in the 4A state championship series. 

Catawba Ridge head coach Stas Swerdzewski said he typically finds areas of improvement in a game, but said he couldn’t find much to nitpick from Tuesday night’s effort. 

“We played a really clean game,” Swerdzewski said. “We executed in every facet of the game. I told them, ‘If we can do that in the remainder of the playoffs, we’ll be tough to beat.’” 

Catawba Ridge, which improved to 26-6, opened the scoring in the bottom of the first when Laurens starting pitcher Mason Hamby hit Britton Nash with a pitch, allowing Jake McCoy to score from third base. 

To his credit, Hamby worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam on the next batter when Sam Schwamb grounded out, allowing the Raiders to turn a neat double play. 

Catawba Ridge’s Owen Noonan provided arguably the highlight of the evening in the top of the third inning when he laid out for an acrobatic diving catch in shallow right field to deny Jackson Martin a single that could have sent Hamby running to third. 

Laurens was unable to advance runners past second base, thanks to Dhein’s pitching and Catawba Ridge’s defense. 

“Lot of credit to their pitcher, he was outstanding tonight,” said Laurens coach Tori Patterson. “We’ve been hitting the ball really well throughout the playoffs, and he held us to three or four hits. We didn’t hit tonight, so we didn’t have a chance of winning.”

The Copperheads doubled their lead in the bottom of the third when Brennan Helms executed a sacrifice bunt, allowing McCoy to score. Two batters later, Schwamb hit a single to right field that pushed Noonan in to score from second base to give the home team a 3-0 lead. 

Left-hander Grayson Ledford took over for Hamby with an out left in the fourth inning. Again, Laurens was able to stop the bleeding before Catawba Ridge could take full advantage. With two runners on base and one out, Noonan flew out to deep left field. Dhein tagged up to make a scoring play from third base, but Jackson Martin threw a dart back to his catcher to secure the out and end the inning. 

Try as they might, Laurens continually got the bat on the ball, but couldn’t avoid the Catawba Ridge outfielders. Jack Yarbrough, Zay Pulley, and Martin all flew out in the top of the fifth inning as Patterson’s team tried their best to scratch a run across the board. 

Schwamb then smacked a triple to center-right, scoring Brennan Helms from second base to give Catawba Ridge a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth 

Laurens then went down in order to close out the final two innings.

Swerdzewski said his team has gained plenty of confidence throughout the playoffs, and is in a strong mental position. 

“If you look at the game Peyton threw, six quality innings, and Glauber came in and shut the door, they did great,” he said. “This thing ain’t over yet. That’s a good team over there. They fight and scrap, so we’ve got to be ready on Thursday. We’ll try to repeat with our pitching, and keep them off-balance.”

Patterson said he intends on starting pitcher Josh Hughes against the Copperheads at home in Game 2. 

“We’ve got a chance with him when he plays,” he said. “But we’ve got to score some runs.”

Brennan Helms lays down a bunt for Catawba Ridge during their game against Laurens.