With a 6-2 loss to Nation Ford, the Rock Hill Bearcats fell into a three-way tie and officially out of placing in the tournament, assuring a new champion in the Wheels Baseball Invitational.
Rock Hill, the tournament's defending champion, Nation Ford and Airport were all tied with a 2-1 record after pool play. Because of fewest runs allowed through the first four innings in each pool game, Airport advanced to one of today's semifinals , while both Nation Ford and Rock Hill will play in consolation games today.
Senior Kyle Adams got the start on the mound for the Bearcats, while Austin Mull made his first appearance in the tournament starting for Nation Ford.
Both teams allowed just one hit in the first inning as Adams and Mull threw about a dozen pitches each to open the game.
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Nation Ford struck first, scoring in the second inning on a hit and run. Zac Light, who was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle during the first game of the day for the Falcons, singled to start the inning, then stole second. Light took off with first baseman Jake Corley swinging on the pitch and Light strolled home after the ball was hit into right field.
Mull helped his cause by doubling in the inning to get Dalton Helms, who walked, to third. Nation Ford's Austin Hicks would walk to load the bases, but the Falcons failed to plate a run.
The Bearcats tied things in the second inning as Adams walked to start the offense. Adams advanced to third on a Falcons' error and was driven in on a single from catcher Taylor Gillespie.
In the top of the third, Rock Hill got the first two outs before giving up a single to Light and walking Corley. However, momentum kept swinging the Bearcats way, as they got a controversial third out after a dropped third strike by Gillespie.
The controversy seemed to fuel Nation Ford as they turned up the heat against Rock Hill in the fourth inning.
An error by the Bearcats first baseman allowed Falcons third baseman Jose Vasquez to get on base.
Hicks then singled to move runners over and Clemson commitment Kyle Whitman was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Falcons' catcher Alex Pittman then doubled in two runs to give Nation Ford a 3-1 lead.
Light continued his hot hitting by singling in both Whitman and pinch runner Justin Johnson.
Rock Hill put one on the board in the bottom of the inning as junior Ben Berger doubled to start the inning and would score on a sacrifice fly from Adams.
Mull seemed to improve as the game went on, but errors hurt the Falcons throughout the game.
In the fifth inning, back-to-back errors by Nation Ford put runners on first and second with only one out. However, Mull was able to get out of the inning without allowing a run as Rock Hill left two men on base.
Whitman hit his third home run in three games in the sixth inning. Then another double by Pittman was all Rock Hill coach Chris Bates needed to see from Adams, as he was pulled from the game after going 5 1-3, allowing 11 hits and six runs.
The Falcons pulled Mull after 6 innings. He allowed four hits and two runs and walked just one.
NATION FORD 6
ROCK HILL 2
Kyle Adams, Luke Werner (5) and Taylor Gillespie (RH); Austin Mull and Alex Pittman (NF). W - Mull, L - Adams. 2B - Austin Mull (NF), Alex Pittman (NF) 2, Ben Berger (RH) 2. HR - Kyle Whitman (NF). LOB - Nation Ford 9, Rock Hill 6.