FORT MILL --
The Fort Mill High baseball team dropped its first Region III-AAAA game of the season after failing to get a hit in a 6-0 loss to Lancaster last week.
The Jackets allowed six runs on seven hits. Fort Mill is now 4-3 on the season overall and 2-1 in the region.
Earlier in the week, what was supposed to be a home game for Fort Mill ended up being a road game against Rock Hill after the Jackets’ field was deemed unplayable due to recent rain storms.
Traveling unexpectedly didn’t seem to bother Fort Mill, which exploded for six runs in the top of the seventh inning to turn a close game into a blowout and an eventual 11-4 win.
Jackets head coach Brad Mercer said his players play so much baseball throughout the year it didn’t matter if the game was moved.
“It was more of an adjustment for us (the coaches) than these guys,” he said.
After a two-out double in the top of the sixth inning by senior Logan Pizzuto, a third Rock Hill error of the game allowed Pizzuto to score for the Jackets, giving them a 5-4 lead.
Fort Mill added six more runs in the seventh inning as senior Kevin Woods scored on a single by junior Justin Tepper, who scored after a bases loaded walk issued to Pizzuto.
Jackets leadoff hitter Brett Netzer then hit a bases clearing double to add to Fort Mill’s run total.
“We hung around and stuck with it,” Mercer said. “They (Rock Hill) are a scrappy club. We battled and finally got our timing down late.”
After a three up, three down in the first inning by both teams, Fort Mill broke through in the top of the second when junior Jaden Savage singled and then made it to third on a failed pick-off attempt. Savage scored on a wild pitch to put the Jackets on the board.
In the bottom of the inning, junior Cody Edkins got something started for Rock Hill when he doubled with one out.
The Bearcats tied it up when sophomore Isaac Rodgers singled in Edkins to make the score 1-1. Rogers was singled over to third by sophomore Caleb Hamilton, but was stranded there.
A single by Fort Mill junior Matt Navarro and a bunt single by Pizzuto put the two leadoff men on for the Jackets in the top of the third. A sac bunt by Netzer put men on second and third before senior Jake Windham sacrificed in Navarro in a close play at the plate. Pizzuto scored when Kevin Woods popped-up back to the pitcher and the ball bounced off the mound after confusion between the Bearcats’ pitcher and third baseman on who was supposed to catch it.
The Bearcats didn’t drop their heads and with one out in the bottom of the third, Rock Hill junior Chase Watts singled to move over senior Josh Willaby, who doubled earlier in the inning.
Watts scored on a double steal by Rock Hill to close the gap again for the Bearcats. After a walk to designated hitter Will Reid, Fort Mill starter Collin Quinn was replaced by junior Jesse Horine. Quinn went two and a third innings allowing four runs on five hits with a walk and a strikeout.
Edkins singled to put Rock Hill ahead as both Watts and Reid scored to put the Bearcats up 4-3.
Rock Hill starter Chandler Hancock shut Fort Mill down in the top of the fourth, stranding a runner as the Jackets failed to score.
Horine came back and did the same to Rock Hill and despite allowing some base runners, the Bearcats didn’t score.
Back-to-back errors by Rock Hill put men at second and third before the Jackets’ Kevin Woods was walked to load the bases with no outs.
A double play by the Bearcats conceded the run to tie the game as Netzer would score for the Jackets.
However, despite having the leading run 90 feet away, Fort Mill couldn’t get him across the plate and stranded two base runners to end the inning.
Hancock was replaced after five innings, having allowed four runs on five hits while striking out three and walking three. He was replaced by Edkins, who would end up getting the loss after working two innings and allowing seven runs on five hits and three walks.