YORK -- York scored six runs in the top of the first inning and Zac Fuesser hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth, squelching any chance for a Gaffney comeback as York eliminated the Indians 9-6 Monday night at York Comprehensive High School.
With the win, York advances to face White Knoll for the second time in the postseason, needing two wins Wednesday in Lexington to advance. Wednesday will come, but no doubt the Cougars will enjoy this one for a while.
York started with a bang, quickly jumping out to a 6-0 lead, but had to hold on for the win.
York starting pitcher Tyler Saboley quickly retired the Indians in their half of the first before the Cougar offense went to work. York leadoff hitter Josh Green grounded out on the first pitch, but the next three Cougars reached safely with consecutive singles.
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A sacrifice fly by catcher Josh Vallejos plated the first run of the game before three straight York hits, capped by a deep two-out home run from Saboley over left field.
It did not take long for flashbacks from Saturday's nightmare loss started making their way through the grandstands. York had a six-run inning against White Knoll in the second round, before the Timberwolves scored 13 runs, sending York to the loser's bracket.
Monday's game looked eerily similar, as Gaffney quickly responded with two runs in the second and three more in the third, cutting the Cougar lead to just one run. The Indian's first two runs came without the benefit of a base hit, aided by a York throwing error that plated two runs.
Just about the time fans started wondering how long the game would last, the game turned into a pitchers' duel between Saboley and Gaffney reliever Cameron Culp.
Culp relieved Indian starter Josh Michaels with two outs in the first and immediately got into a groove. Culp retired 14 of the first 17 York batters he faced, scattering three hits through his first five innings pitched.
Saboley was nearly as effective, recording seven consecutive outs before allowing the tying run on base with leadoff walk in the sixth inning.
With Culp on cruise control and York holding onto a slim one-run lead, Cougar coach Scott Kiggans opted to put in Zac Fuesser to keep the Indians at bay.
Fuesser entered the game in the sixth inning with a runner on second and one out, but struck out the first two Gaffney batters he faced, eliminating the Indians' scoring threat with seven pitches.
York added some much-needed insurance runs with a two-out rally in its half of the sixth. Josh Green started the run with a single up the middle and Bradley Victor reached when he was plunked by Culp.
Fuesser, who had struck swinging out in his two prior at-bats, came to the plate with two outs and two on when he crushed a high two-strike pitch that the entire crowd knew was gone as soon as he hit it.
The three insurance runs were more than enough for Fuesser, but Gaffney added a run on a solo home run by senior Dylan Jolley.
Fuesser as been the Cougars' go-to guy all season, but Saboley may have been the difference in the win. Saboley shook off the rough start and gave up just one earned run through six innings, picking up his third win of the season.