SPARTANBURG -- Spartanburg's Ian McKinney figured nerves could be a factor early in his start Wednesday against Rock Hill.
After all, the Post 28 lefty was making his first start of the season in the third game of the American Legion best-of-five playoff series -- which was tied 1-1 coming in.
McKinney's nerves ended up settling down long before his curveball, which he struggled to locate all night. But he eventually got into a groove with his other pitches and lasted 7 1-3 innings to lead Spartanburg to a 7-3 win.
"I felt pretty shaky at the beginning. My curveball wasn't breaking, and I was leaving the fastball up high and the changeup low," said McKinney, who allowed three runs on seven hits and four walks. "After about the third inning, I was able to settle in and throw strikes."
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Post 34, now trailing 2-1, must win Game 4 today at The Winthrop Ballpark to keep the series going.
Rock Hill's pitchers struggled to throw strikes throughout the game, with nine walks and a handful of wild pitches. Three of the nine Spartanburg batters to walk came around to score.
Southpaw Brent Oakes took the loss for Post 34. He allowed six runs on six hits and six walks in 5 1-3 innings.
"We can't walk them and win," Rock Hill coach Steve Knight said. "We didn't play too badly, but too many walks will kill you. That's baseball from Little League to pros."
Spartanburg trailed 3-2 after four innings but scored five runs in the fifth and sixth innings to open up a four-run advantage.
Ross Hanna's two-out single in the bottom of the sixth was the big blow, as Dee Jones and Andrew Patterson came around to score and increase Post 28's lead to 7-3.
"I was just looking for something to hit, and I got my pitch," Hanna said. "It was a fastball right down the middle and luckily I got a hit. It's always good to win at home, especially in the playoffs."
Post 34 actually outhit Spartanburg, 9-7, but couldn't take advantage of its scoring opportunities. Rock Hill left 11 runners on base.