As elementary as it sounds, somebody had to win the first game.
All Rock Hill Post 34 was concerned with, after Spartanburg took Game 1 10-3, was making sure it wasn't duplicated.
Post 34 evened its best-of-five series with Post 28 with an energetic 9-6 win on Tuesday, wiping away the sour taste of Monday's middling offensive performance with seven hits and a slew of timely knocks. After leaving the bases juiced three times on Monday, Post 34 (9-9) broke the game open with a three-run fourth inning and kept adding to it.
Never miss a local story.
"I think it was we just didn't want to repeat that," said right fielder Ryan Cox, whose two-out, two-run double in the fourth turned a 3-1 game into 5-1. "Our motto the whole season has been to win the inning and we put up a run, two runs, three runs, one run."
"In any series, that's the goal, not to go down two to nothing," coach Steve Knight said. "You want to take that one in your house and then go back on the road and take one in their house."
Game 3 is at 7 p.m. today in Spartanburg.
Post 28 (13-3) had ace David Haselden (3-1) pitching, but the hurler talked to coach Matthew West before the game and said he didn't have much, judging from warmups. Still, after his teammates staked him to a 1-0 first-inning lead, Haselden at least had some breathing room.
Not for long.
Cox greeted Haselden with a bloop single and moved to second when Brantley Rumford dropped a sacrifice bunt. Haselden pounced on it but couldn't control the ball once it was in his hand, leading to an error and two men on.
Evan Andert made it count with the first of two doubles, a shot to right-center that plated Cox and Rumford and erased Spartanburg's lead. From there it was off to the races.
Casey Seay (4-1) held Post 28 off the board until the fourth, when Haselden put himself in trouble with a leadoff walk and a beaning of Ross Lisee. Josh Bowers walked and Michael Hill got plunked, forcing in a run.
Haselden whiffed Zach Knight but Cox came up again. He didn't hesitate, jumping on the first pitch and lashing it to left.
Two runs scored to make it 5-1 and although Hill was gunned at the plate trying to score one more, Rock Hill had its confidence back. Post 34 added runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh and survived a ninth-inning hiccup to even the series.
"Oh my gosh, it was a relief," said Andert, who led Post 34 with three hits. "We got it from everybody tonight."
Seay worked through the seventh and departed in favor of Bowers, who gave up a run in the eighth but escaped a jam. He struck out Alex Dozier to lead off the ninth but Andrew Patterson singled with one out.
In stepped Sloan Gilliam, who tormented Rock Hill on Monday with two homers, five RBIs and 6 1-3 shutout innings and also jacked a solo homer in Tuesday's first inning. Bowers pitched away from Gilliam, walked him and then loaded the bases with a walk to Ross Hanna.
Knight walked out to calm his pitcher down but Luke Danielewicz delivered a two-run single right after. Bowers switched with left fielder Logan Cribb, who worked a quick 1-2 count on Kyle Worthy.
Worthy smashed a liner to third baseman Hill, who'd already committed two errors on low throws to first. Hill redeemed himself and cemented the win by stepping on the bag and firing a perfect bullet to Knight.
The sigh of relief ruffled a few hairdos.
"We really didn't want to be down 2-0," said Seay, who struck out three and gave up five hits. "I was getting a little tired but I didn't want to come out."
"I thought we came out flat," West said. "I thought we expected to win, expected them to lay down for us. We'll just have to try and get it back (tonight)."