He was not quite Roy Hobbs, played by Robert Redford in the classic baseball movie "The Natural, but the similarities were striking. Evan Andert led Rock Hill's Post 34 American Legion team in a doubleheader sweep over Fort Mill's Post 43 Wednesday night at Rock Hill High School by scores of 15-3 and 9-7.
Andert went 4-for-5 and knocked in seven runs in the two games, including the go-ahead home run in the sixth inning of game two. If that were not enough, Andert picked up his first win of the season on the mound in the game-two nail-biter.
Andert relieved Wade Ruff in the second. Ruff pitched a shortened complete game in game one and took to the mound for his second start of the night.
Fort Mill countered with Anna Kimbrell in game two, the female baseball sensation who participated for the United States national team earlier in the spring.
Kimbrell pitched three innings, but was knocked out of the game after a John Tindal infield single and a Brantly Rumford ground-rule double. Both players scored, allowing Kimbrell off the hook for a decision.
From that point on, the game belonged to Andert.
Trailing by one in the fourth inning, the southpaw pulled out a scene reminiscent of the famous movie. Andert smoked a fastball destined for a light pole, crushing one of the bulbs and sending glass everywhere.
The only difference between Andert and Robert Redford's character was the fireworks in center field came from early July 4th celebrations and Andert's ball went foul beside the third base dugout.
The raining shards scattered the Fort Mill dugout and drew a few smiles in the crowd, but the crescendo fizzled out when Andert grounded out on the next pitch. He responded by taking control on the mound.
He kept the game close and had an opportunity to help his own cause on his next at-bat in the sixth inning.
Rumford started the rally with a hustle play when he ran out a routine ground ball the third baseman threw away. Ryan Cox sacrificed Rumford to second, allowing Jeff Bowers' single to tie the game at six.
The game came full circle as Andert came up to bat with Bowers still on first. Andert hit a no-doubter home run over the left-field fence, giving Post 34 a two-run lead into the final inning.
Andert retired Fort Mill in order in the seventh and final inning, completing the amazing night.
"We seem to have kids from other teams do that to us," said Rock Hill coach Steve Knight, "but I am not sure if one of our kids has ever had a game quite like that. We had a no-quit attitude in the second game. You can accomplish so much on the field with that mindset.
Game one was a stark contrast from the thrilling nightcap, as Rock Hill came out swinging the bats like its season depended on it, jumping ahead 8-0 in the first inning of game one.
Rock Hill knocked Fort Mill starter Shawn Thomas around early and often. Thomas got a groundout from Rock Hill's leadoff batter, Cox, before 10 consecutive Rock Hill batters reached base safely.
Walks, errors, and base hits were abundant before Thomas finally got Bowers to fly out for the inning's second out. Bowers was the 12th batter in the inning, but Andert walked on four straight pitches, ending the night for Thomas.
Rock Hill's first inning highlight came on a Taylor Wallace homer, a shot that rang out cries of, "What slump?" from the Post 34 dugout.
Steve Simpson replaced Thomas and pitched extremely well for three innings before the bottom fell out for Fort Mill.
Post 34 plated seven more runs in the fourth inning, benefiting from doubles by Andert and Michael Hill.
Originally scheduled for seven innings, the two head coaches agreed to put game one in the books and let the 10-run mercy rule take effect.
The sweep brings Post 34 back to 7-7, and giving it sole possession of third place in the region. After the holiday weekend, Rock Hill takes the field next Monday against Lancaster at The Winthrop Ballpark.