Ryan Gilbert’s dominant pitching performance was more than Rock Hill hitters could handle as the York Comprehensive High School baseball team defeated the Rock Hill Bearcats 6-3 in Saturday’s Chester County Natural Gas championship game.
Gilbert’s effort included 11 strikeouts and no walks in the complete-game win.
After the Bearcats plated three runs in the first two innings, Gilbert found his rhythm and handcuffed Rock Hill the rest of the way.
The Cougars knotted the score at 3 in the third inning, highlighted by Joe Gill’s two-run single with the bases loaded and Adam Hoffman’s run-scoring single that gave York its first run.
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The Cougars sealed the win with a three-run effort in the fourth inning, including Gilbert’s lead-off base hit.
After Harrison Childers’ base hit, Ray Ellis grounded to third, but the throw home was off the mark, sending Gilbert across the plate.
Two outs later, John Moorefield doubled home Childers and Hoffman, followed by an RBI single that gave the Cougars all the runs they would need for the win.
The Cougars opened the Chester preseason tournament with a narrow 2-1 loss to Clover, despite Gilbert’s 1-hitter and eight strikeouts. Moorefield had York’s lone hit.
Next came a 5-0 win against Gaffney, with Moorefield hurling a 1-hitter and delivering a two-run double to help his own cause. Also hitting safely were Will Prince, Ellis, Hoffman, Childers and Gilbert.
“I felt comfortable on the mound and had control of my pitches,” Moorefield said of his game against Gaffney. “I was able to mix my pitches, including fastball and change-up.”
On March 5, the Cougars had a walk-off win on home turf in the final inning of a game in which they defeated Blacksburg 4-3.
Trailing 3-2 in the final inning with Prince at the plate, a wild pitch sent Hoffman and Hunter Horne home to end the game.
“Tonight shows what can happen in a baseball game,” head coach Scot Kiggans said after the game. “The game is not over until it’s over.”
Kiggans gave credit for the wins to the pitching staff, with Gilbert as the go-to pitcher, in the preseason tournament. York pitchers had 30 strikeouts in the tournament in 22 innings.
“Our team is playing well as we look ahead to region play,” said Kiggans.
In describing the winning run in the Blacksburg game, Horne said, “Their catcher overthrew the ball. The base runner has to read the situation.
“Games like this help us prepare for region play.”
Luc Greene was the winning pitcher, with Ryan Enniss in relief. “I felt good on the mound,” Greene said. “I rely on my fastball a lot.”
“Our team has improved since last year,” he said. “We are playing together and winning games.”
The Cougars travel to Fort Mill on Friday, starting with the junior varsity game at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity at 7:30 p.m.