FORT MILL — With two big Region III wins recently, one against rival Fort Mill, the Nation Ford Falcons are back to .500 on the season and 6-3 in the region.
The Falcons beat Fort Mill 8-1 and York 7-2 last week. Against Fort Mill, the Falcons hit three home runs, two from third baseman Brandon Fite and the other from first baseman Cole Avery, as the team scattered 10 hits in the win.
Nation Ford coach Mike Matkovich said it’s the best he has seen his team play.
“We swung the bats as good as we have in two years,” Matkovich said. “From top to bottom that was our best game.”
However, it was the Jackets who struck first. Fort Mill’s Brett Netzer led the game with a triple to left center and later scored on a passed ball. Despite also giving up a single to Fort Mill’s Jackson Massey, Falcons starter Josh Jones got out of the inning without allowing another run.
In the bottom of the first, Nation Ford loaded the bases for for Jacob Wright, who singled in two runs. Nation Ford’s next hitter Avery hit a three-run shot that just stayed fair down the left field line.
That bomb led to a 5-1 lead for Nation Ford and got Fort Mill starter Garrett Leonard pulled after just one third of an inning. He was replaced by Jesse Horine, who got out of the inning for the Jackets.
Fort Mill tried to chip away at Nation Ford when Clay Helvey lead the second inning off with a single. He was left stranded on second as Jones struck out two of the next three batters.
Nation Ford’s Fite hit a solo shot in the bottom of the second inning to make it 6-1 and Clay Hunt doubled as Fort Mill struggled on the mound.
The Jackets put two runners on in the third inning as a Falcons’ error and a walk from Jones gave the Jackets its best opportunity all game. Massey walked to load the bases. However, Jones battled back to get a strikeout and a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning without allowing a run.
“We got behind early and couldn’t dig out of it,” said Fort Mill coach Brad Mercer. “We felt like we had a good game plan coming in.”
The Falcons’ bats were alive almost through the entire order as its ninth hitter Justin Borland drove in Avery, who reached on a single in the third inning to continue to add to Nation Ford’s lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Fite crushed his second home run, again to left field, to lead off the inning.
“I was seeing a lot of curve balls, but they made a mistake and threw me a fastball,” Fite said.
Horine was replaced on the mound by Fort Mill teammate Nick Matchunis, who got the Jackets out of the inning without allowing another run.
Jones went six innings for Nation Ford, allowing just one run on six hits, striking out five and walking one.