Propelled by a four-run fourth inning, Fort Mill beat South Pointe 8-4 to advance to the semifinals of the 2013 Wheels Invitational baseball tournament.
Fort Mill won pool play in the South Pointe bracket. The Jackets will play Hidden Valley on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at South Pointe in one of the tournament’s semifinals. South Pointe is scheduled to play at home at 9 a.m. against St. Vincent Pallotti.
“These were some guys who stepped to the plate,” said Fort Mill coach Brad Mercer. “Our bats were really aggressive. Our pitching has been solid and kept us in it.”
Both teams had a long Friday as Fort Mill was coming off having to finish a game that morning, a 3-2 loss to Covenant Day, which was started Thursday but put on hold because of rain. South Pointe also played Covenant Day early Friday before playing Fort Mill and beat them 7-3.
Fort Mill’s starter Austin Hackney was a little shaky to start as he allowed the first three South Pointe hitters to reach base, one of which – Josh Massey – scored on a stop-and-go play as Troy Rawls stole second and Massey came home for the Stallions’ first run.
After a 1-2-3 inning for Hackney in the second, Fort Mill got back into the game on two swings in the third inning.
Leftfielder Logan Pizzuto singled and rightfielder Kevin Woods then smashed a two-run home run over the right field fence to give the Jackets the 2-1 lead.
Centerfielder Jaden Savage then singled and first baseman Josh Turner walked before Stallions coach Jason Terry visited South Pointe starter Cal Leslie on the mound. The visit worked as Leslie knuckled down and got the next two batters out.
In the fourth inning, Leslie got into trouble again as he walked two Fort Mill hitters, and an error helped load the bases.
Savage then drove in a run on an infield hit and Fort Mill kept the bases loaded when Turner singled to knock in Woods and Jake Windham.
That hit was all Leslie saw on the hill for the evening as he gave up six runs on six hits while walking three and striking out just one. Leslie was replaced with Colby Robbins.
“Cal had pitched against them three times last year and was able to keep them off stride,” Terry said. “We just couldn’t make the plays we needed to. We have been in a bad hitting slump.”
In the sixth inning for the Jackets, Savage led off with a double, just the second extra base hit of the game. He was followed with a single from Turner to put runners on the corners.
Savage scored on a trick play from Fort Mill with a delayed steal to give the Jackets a 7-1 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Hackney again got in trouble, walking the first two batters for South Pointe.
The Jackets then made an error to allow a run as centerfielder Ian Hinson scored for the Stallions. That led to Hackney being pulled for Jesse Horine for Fort Mill. Hackney went five innings allowing three hits and four runs, while walking two and striking out three.
South Pointe’s Wade Hopper then doubled in Massey and Rawls to put the Stallions back in it. However, Horine had none of it and got three straight outs to put a stop to the rally.
The Jackets added another run in the top of the seventh with the help of a leadoff double from Woods, a fourth Stallions error and a sacrifice fly from Savage.
Fort Mill 8, South Pointe 4
Austin Hackney, Jesse Horine (6) and Justin Tepper (FM); Cal Leslie, Colby Robbins (4) and William Robbins (SP). W – Austin Hackney, L – Cal Leslie. 2B – Jaden Savage (FM), Wade Hopper (SP), Kevin Woods (FM). HR – Kevin Woods (FM). LOB – Fort Mill 10, South Pointe 2.
Leading hitters: Fort Mill – Jaden Savage 4-5 2B, 2 RBI; Kevin Woods 2-3 2B, HR, 2 RBI; Josh Turner 2-4 2 RBI; Logan Pizzuto 2-4. South Pointe – Wade Hopper 1-3 2B, 2 RBI.
Records: Fort Mill 8-8, South Pointe 9-9.