FORT MILL — Yellow Jackets pitcher Austin Hackney was obviously disappointed after being taken out of the game with two outs in the top of the seventh inning.
Needing just one strike to record a complete game victory, Hackney suddenly ran into turbulence when Rock Hill staged a late rally to push three runs across the plate to cut what was once a comfortable 8-3 lead into a nailbiter.
The Bearcats pulled to within two at 8-6, and loaded the bases with one hit away from either tying or taking the lead.
Hackney, who had never thrown a complete game, was relieved by Preston Jordan, who eventually got Cody Edkins to line a sharp fly to right, which was squeezed by outfielder Logan Pizzuoto, preserving the two-run Fort Mill victory Wednesday at the Yellow Jackets’ diamond.
“Yes I was disappointed; but I am just glad that we were able to win,” Hackney said after needing only one strike to go the distance after a solid mound performance. “This was a big win for us in our pursuit of the playoffs.”
Yellow Jackets coach Brad Mercer was rooting for Hackney to complete the game. However, he discovered arm weariness.
“He gave us six solid innings, but suddenly grew tired in the seventh. But give credit to Rock Hill; they kept battling and swinging the bats to get back in the game. Remember, the game is not over until 21 outs.”
Fort Mill took a 3-1 lead in the top of the first and doubled the margin with three in the fourth, highlighted by Hackney’s 2-run single. The Bearcats pulled to within three with single scores in the fourth and fifth. Chase Watts scored on a groundout and the following inning, Will Reid came home on a throwing error.
The Yellow Jackets got much-needed insurance with two in the bottom of the sixth when Logan Pizzuto and Matt Navarro belted RBI-singles.
What appeared to be a comfortable lead, however, quickly grew tight when Rock Hill staged a two-out rally, resulting in three runs in the top of the seventh. Jordan Kimbrell, Zack Carter, and Chase Watts each belted RBI-singles.
But with the bases loaded and the go-ahead runs on base, Jordan recorded the final out to secure the Yellow Jacket victory.
“Credit Fort Mill for making the plays to win,” Rock Hill coach Keith Coltrell said. “However, we made too many mistakes to extend innings. You cannot give a team like Fort Mill extra outs in an inning; they will make you pay.”
Fort Mill 8, Rock Hill 6
Will Reid (6), Isaac Rodgers (1) and Brandon Banks; Austin Hackney (6), Preston Jordan and Justin Tepper. WP - Hackney . LP - Reid. 2B – Josh Willaby (RH), Mason Jordan, Austin Hackney (FM) 3B – Chase Watts (RH).
Records: Rock Hill 8-11, 4-6 (Region 3-AAAA); Fort Mill 11-9, 4-6.