In two baseball games last weekend, the Rock Hill Bearcats did not manage one run against the Nation Ford Falcons. The Falcons blanked the Bearcats, scoring 11 runs and 2 runs in the championship game to win the Chester County Gas Preseason Tournament.
Friday night at Rock Hill High School however, the Falcons’ defense let them down and it was the Bearcats who came away with a Region 3-AAAA 4-3 walkoff win. The loss was Nation Ford’s first on the season.
Earned runs were at a premium Friday night as the two squads combined for only one more hit than errors, nine to eight. Rock Hill (4-3) came to bat in the home half of the seventh with the score tied at 3-all. With one out, senior Tad Martin’s ground ball to second base was mishandled and he beat the throw to first. Josh Willaby followed with a base hit and Chase Watts walked to load the bases with one out. That brought up sophomore Will Reid, who pitched six innings and only allowed one earned run on four hits for Rock Hill.
Reid pushed a grounder towards first and the first baseman was unable to field the ball cleanly as Martin raced home from third with the winning run for the Bearcats.
“Huge win for our kids and for their belief,” Rock Hill coach Keith Cottrell said. “Nation Ford, it’s their region, there’s a couple other teams but they’re at the top for sure. For our kids to see their hard work be rewarded is my favorite part, and for us to beat a team that’s at the top, that’s a big deal for us.”
Reid should have gotten out of the Falcons’ second with only one run scored but a two-out grounder to short was mishandled to load the bases. Designated-hitter Conner Green followed with a two-RBI single to centerfield that put Nation Ford (6-1) up 3-0. Reid retired 10-straight batters after that base hit.
“I was most impressed with Will’s ability to withstand the early three runs,” Cottrell said. “Will’s our Friday night guy. He pitched his tail off, I’m proud of him. He did not get rattled, which for a high school kid is a big deal.”
Control and defense let Nation Ford down in the third as junior Dalton Helms, who got a mound victory over Rock Hill over the weekend, hit the first two Bearcats batters he faced in the inning.
Jordan Kimbrell bunted one down the third-base line and the throw to first was wild and down the right-field line, allowing both runners to come all the way around and score and Kimbrell to end up at third.
Martin then grounded to first and the first baseman’s hesitation allowed Kimbrell to score and tie the game at three. Helms only gave up the three runs and three hits, while striking out four and not walking a batter. He hit another batter in the fourth.
Junior Chris Cash relieved with the bases full in the fourth and induced a grounder from Martin to third. He only surrendered the unearned run in the seventh and gave up two hits while striking out five and walking one to get the hard-luck loss. Zach Carter pitched a perfect seventh to get the win for Rock Hill.
Rock Hill 4, Nation Ford 3
Dalton Helms (3.2), Chris Cash (2.2); Will Reid (6), Zach Carter (1). WP - Carter. LP - Cash. 2B - Will Visbeck (NF).
Leading hitters - Nation Ford: Conner Green 1-2, sac, 2 RBI, Josh Corley 1-3, RBI, run scored. Rock Hill: Jordan Kimbrell 2-3, run scored, Caleb Hamilton 0-1, 2 HBP, run scored.
Records: Rock Hill 4-3, 1-0 Region 3-AAAA; Nation Ford 6-1, 0-1.