Striking early and often was the key to Fort Mill High's 4-2 win over Region 4-AAA baseball rival York Comprehensive on Tuesday.
Fort Mill improves to 3-0 in the region, 5-3 overall. York falls to 6-5 overall.
"We have been practicing hard and have come out with a great attitude," said Fort Mill coach Brad Mercer. "We are in a great spot. If we just play well, it will be fun down the stretch.'
York struck first scoring in the first inning on an error, which would have been the third out. The Cougars' Cody Cushman singled, pushing leadoff batter Tyler Sizemore to second. Sizemore advanced to third on a double play, before Jacob Ramsey hit a pop fly to short. Sizemore ran home as the ball dropped, but Ramsey was thrown out at first after trying to get back to the bag.
Fort Mill pitcher Nathan Helvey took a liner off the leg in the second inning but managed to get the out and toughed it out for several more innings, getting better as the game progressed. He went six and two-third innings and allowed just two runs on five hits, striking out seven and walking four.
"Nathan battled and gave us a chance," Mercer said. "We played well in the field. It was a good all-around game."
York starter Keith Davis struck out three of the first five batters he faced and didn't give up a hit until the second inning.
Davis gave up back-to-back singles in the second to Garrett Ray and Rob Aranyosi, before walking Andrew Tomasovich to load the bases. Zac Fry, batting ninth in York's lineup, drove in Ray on a sacrifice fly to tie the game.
Fort Mill scored again in the third inning. With two runners on after being hit by pitches, Ray and Aranyosi drove home runs RBI singles for a 3-1 Fort Mill lead.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Fort Mill's Kody Hartley singled and reached second on a fielding error. Two batters later, catcher Cody Moody drove in Hartley.
York collected a run in the fifth on two hits. Dustin Victor and Will Benfield both singled to start the inning, and Matt Bostic drove in Victor despite grounding into a double play.
York threatened in the top of the seventh by getting the first two batters on base. First baseman Guy Mazzell and Victor both singled. Helvey then came back to strikeout the next two batters before walking Sizemore to load the bases. Helvey was removed and Tomasovich came in to get the save, striking out Cushman for the final out.
The Jackets left nine runners on base.
FORT MILL 4, YORK 2
Keith Davis and Will Benfield; Nathan Helvey and Cody Moody. W - Helvey, L - Davis, S - Tomasovich
Leading hitters: York - Victor 2-3; Fort Mill - Aranyosi 3-3, Ray 2-3.
Records: York 6-5; Fort Mill 5-3, 3-0 Region 4-AAA