The game that wouldn’t end finally did on Monday night, and the result must have felt like the movie “Groundhog Day” to everybody who thought it had ended on April 12.
Monday’s action lasted two innings and 30 minutes before Garrett Rast ended things with a bases loaded, no outs single to centerfield to score Josh Crump and give the Northwestern Trojans a 2-1, 10-inning win over the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets at Northwestern High School.
In the original game, Crump drove home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a 2-1 win.
Fort Mill protested the result over an illegal substitution and won their appeal, thus bringing about the game being resumed in the top of the ninth, the time of the protest, with the score tied at 1.
The win gave the Trojans (23-2) a perfect Region 3-AAAA record for the second year in a row at 14-0. Last season’s region record was 12-0 in the old Region 3-AAAA before high school realignment, so Northwestern has now won 26 consecutive region contests.
The Trojans defeated the Yellow Jackets two out of three games this season, with Fort Mill winning the Wheels Invitational title game at Northwestern to hand Northwestern its first loss of the season. That game did not count in the region standings.
The Trojans also completed an undefeated home region season, although their two losses did come at home in non-region games.
They go into the start of the playoffs Thursday at home as the No. 1 seed in the district with a possible matchup with crosstown rival Rock Hill.
Fort Mill had to leave after the game and go to Nation Ford High to play the Falcons in a makeup of Friday’s rainout. The Yellow Jackets have qualified for the postseason.
Monday’s replay scenario was an unusual situation and an unfamiliar one for Walters and his players.
“This is the first one (game replay),” Walters said laughing. “That’s why I had to call around, I didn’t know if I needed to make new lineup cards or if everybody kept their old ones.”
As for the play on the field, the Yellow Jackets made two errors in the ninth but got out of trouble with a smooth 5-4-3 double play and a runner thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning.
Jake Rentz allowed only Fort Mill one baserunner on a walk in the ninth, and Cam Norwood sat the Jackets down 1-2-3 in the 10th, striking out two.
Avery Carter walked Crump to lead off the Trojan 10th. Jonathan Smith then tried to sacrifice bunt Crump to second but pushed the bunt past Carter for a base hit. Norwood followed by attempting to bunt the runners up, but his bunt was a perfect roller along the third-base line that died just inside the chalk. The Fort Mill catcher could not even attempt a throw at any base and the bases were full of Trojans with nobody out. Rast then drove a two-strike pitch sharply into center for the walk-off victory.
Northwestern 2, Fort Mill 1 (10)
WP - Norwood. LP - Carter.
Records - Northwestern 23-2, 14-0 Region 3-AAAA; Fort Mill 13-10, 6-7.