MAULDIN — Mauldin High baseball coach Jim Maciejewski has said that one of his favorite aspects of this year’s Region 2-AAAA championship team is its ability to rebound from adversity.
Unfortunately for the sixth-ranked Mavericks, they’ll have a quick chance to show that trait in the playoffs.
Rock Hill’s Isaac Rodgers threw a three-hit shutout as the fourth-seeded Bearcats defeated top-seeded Mauldin 5-0 in Thursday’s first round of the Class AAAA District IV playoffs.
The Mavericks (17-6) will host an elimination game against Greenwood on Saturday at 6:30 p.m., while Rock Hill (15-9) will face Byrnes on Saturday.
The key to Rodgers’ brilliant performance was his ability to throw off-speed pitch after off-speed pitch for strikes.
“We knew he wasn’t going to be overpowering, but he was going to throw strikes,” said Maciejewski. “He pitched a heckuva ballgame, but we’ve got to make the adjustment. The first ball we hit to right field (the opposite way) was with two out in the seventh.”
Rodgers gave up three singles, two walks and struck out eight.
“Isaac’s done a great job for us all year. He was 4-3 coming into tonight, and he should’ve actually been 7-0,” said Rock Hill coach Dell Corley. “We didn’t provide the offense then, but we provided enough tonight.”
Mauldin starter Brandon Justice was perfect through three innings, but the College of Charleston signee ran into trouble in the fourth. The Bearcats scored two unearned runs off one hit - a swinging bunt that traveled about 20 feet. Zach Carter’s sacrifice fly gave Rock Hill a 1-0 lead, then Chase Watts scored on a double steal to cap the inning.
The Bearcats added two more runs the next inning. After Justice retired the first two batters, Bryon Foust and Caleb Hamilton had back-to-back singles and both came home on a dropped fly ball in the outfield.
“We definitely didn’t play our best today. That’s for sure,” said Maciejewski.
Rock Hill scored the game’s lone earned run on an RBI-double by Watts with two out in the seventh.
While the Bearcats went 8-6 in Region 3-AAAA, all six losses were by one run apiece, including a 3-2, 12-inning loss to No. 3 Northwestern last week.
“It was a heartbreaker of a loss, but it made me feel like we would surprise some people,” said Corley. “Our kids have been in some tight games all year, but the big thing is that you’ve got to learn how to win. Tonight, was a big step in that direction.”
Rock Hill certainly looked battled tested coming out of a region that went a collective 4-0 Thursday. Hamilton, Watts and Foust accounted for all six Bearcat hits with two apiece. Both of Watts’ hits were doubles.
While the Bearcats will look to advance to the district final with a win Saturday, Mauldin will be looking to stay alive.