FORT MILL — The seventh-ranked Fort Mill Yellow Jackets made quick work of the Gaffney Indians winning 3-2 in just 76 minutes of baseball to open the 4A state playoffs.
Fort Mill senior Avery Carter got the start for the Jackets and struggled some early. However, Carter went the distance, allowing four hits and just two runs, while striking out three and walking one.
Jackets coach Brad Mercer said his team likes to work fast if given the opportunity.
“We got breaks when we needed to and Avery kept things around the plate,” Mercer said.
“We knew Gaffney was a good team. They put the ball in play. But this team was aggressive at the plate.”
Fort Mill will play Friday, instead of Saturday, at 6:30 p.m., against the winner of Blythewood and Laurens. If Blythewood wins, Fort Mill will be on the road. If Laurens wins, the Jackets will play host.
In the top of the sixth, Gaffney tied the game as second baseman Jackson Propst was hit by a pitch and then pinch-hitter Joseph Mabry doubled to score Propst and tie the game at 2-2.
Fort Mill was able to get the run right back in the bottom of the sixth inning as senior Jaden Savage walked and scored on a double by outfielder Jackson Massey, who was thrown out trying to reach third.
Both teams traded runs in the first inning as Gaffney struck in the top of the inning after the leadoff batter reached on an error. From there, first baseman Luke Lancaster singled and Chris Clary, who led off, was driven in on a sacrifice by designated-hitter Tucker Byars.
In the bottom of the first, Jackets shortstop Brett Netzer reached on an error and was driven in by Savage two batters later to tie the game up at 1-1.
After the shaky start, Carter came back to retire five straight before allowing a single in the third inning.
Gaffney starter Camron Farley calmed down in the second and third innings, allowing just one base runner over that stretch.
The game moved quickly as both pitchers worked rapidly and threw strikes, allowing batters to make contact, but not allowing them to get on base.
In the fourth, catcher Justin Tepper doubled to start off the bottom half of the inning.
First baseman Mason Jordan singled in Grant Fry, running for Tepper, to break the 1-1 tie and give Fort Mill its first lead of the night.
Carter stayed solid for the Jackets through four innings, but got into some trouble in the fifth with one out as the Indians’ third baseman Zach Wood would single and Farley walked to put two on for Gaffney.
But after a visit to the mound, Carter refocused and got the next two batters out to get out of the jam.
Farley was pulled after four innings for Gaffney, allowing two runs and five hits. Replaced by Wood, the Jackets’ second batter of the inning Netzer would walk, but a 1-6-3 double play to the next Fort Mill batter got Gaffney out of the inning.
Fort Mill 3, Gaffney 2
Camron Farley, Zach Wood (5) and Josh Sereno (G), Avery Carter and Justin Tepper (FM).
W – Avery Carter, L – Zach Wood. 2B – Justin Tepper (FM), Joseph Mabry (G). LOB: Gaffney 4, Fort Mill 4.
Leading hitters: Gaffney – Luke Lancaster 2-3; Joseph Mabry 1-1 2B. Fort Mill – Jackson Massey 2-3 2B, RBI; Jordan Mason 2-3 RBI; Justin Tepper 1-3 2B; Jaden Savage 1-2 RBI.
Records: Gaffney 9-12, Fort Mill 15-5.