After dropping their first game of the day to Virginia’s Hidden Valley 7-3, Fort Mill needed to bounce back against Rock Hill to make it to today’s semifinals in the seventh annual Wheels Baseball Invitational.
The Jackets got what they needed in beating Rock Hill 9-3. Fort Mill’s pitching allowed just two hits in the game.
Senior Andrew Tomasovich started the game and went 4 2/3 innings, striking out nine and walking five, while allowing just two hits. Junior Preston Jordan came to the mound in the fifth and finished the game without allowing another hit.
“Andrew didn’t have his best stuff, but he battled,” said Fort Mill coach Brad Mercer. “Preston came in and did well. We got a great offensive output.”
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Tomasovich helped his cause at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and senior Nathan Helvey led Fort Mill, going 3-for-4 with two RBI.
With the win, Fort Mill will play today at 1 p.m. at South Pointe. Rock Hill will play at 11:15 a.m. at home in a consolation game.
Bearcats coach Keith Cottrell said he knew his team had its work cut out for him in against Fort Mill.
“We knew what we were going up against,” he said. “Tomasovich was able to dictate the game. He controlled the tempo and pace of the game. (Fort Mill) hit the ball where we weren’t. That is a good ball club.”
Fort Mill wasted no time in making up for its lack of offensive production against Hidden Valley by getting the second batter of the game on with the help of a Bearcats error.
The Jackets’ number three hitter, Preston Fry, doubled in sophomore shortstop Brett Netzer to put Fort Mill on the board in the opening inning.
That set up Tomasovich two batters later, as he drove in Fry with an RBI-single to left-center.
Rock Hill bounced back in the bottom of the first. Tomasovich walked lead-off hitter Tad Martin, who was sacrificed over to second base by sophomore Chase Watts. Martin then took third and was sacrificed in by catcher Ethan Neely.
Rock Hill threatened again in the bottom of the second by getting the first hitter of the inning on with a walk. After two strikeouts by Tomasovich and some crafty baserunning by Rock Hill, second baseman Josh Willaby ended the inning on third base, stopping the Bearcats’ momentum.
The Jackets blew the game open in the third inning. Netzer led the inning off with a single and was moved to third on a single from Fry. A walk by junior Kevin Woods loaded the bases. Tomasovich then singled in Netzer and a Rock Hill error plated two more — Fry and Woods.
Helvey then drove in Tomasovich with a sacrifice fly, as did junior Jake Windham, who sacrificed in second baseman Josh Turner, who reached on the Bearcats’ error.
Rock Hill got its first hit of the game in the bottom of the third as Neely doubled in Martin, who reached after being hit by a pitch.
The Bearcats continued to be hot at the plate as two of the first three batters reached base in the fourth inning. The first on a passed ball-third strike error by Fort Mill’s catcher and the second on a single from Bearcats freshman Will Reid. Tomasovich worked through the inning and got out of the jam once again without allowing a run.
Knowing an insurance run never hurts, Fort Mill added one in the top of the fifth.
Woods led the inning off by walking and Turner pushed him over to third base two batters later. Helvey then drove Woods in on an RBI single.
Rock Hill finally became too much for Tomasovich in the bottom of the fifth as he walked two Bearcats between two strikeouts. The bases became loaded with Bearcats after an error by Woods at first base allowed a third base runner.
Jordan then came in and allowed one run to cross the plate, but got out of the inning without allowing Rock Hill to bust things open.
Fort Mill 9, Rock Hill 3
Andrew Tomasovich, Preston Jordan (5) and Garrett Ray (FM); Ben Berger, Zack Carter (6) and Ethan Neely, Matt Hill (5) (RH). W – Tomasovich (6-0), L – Berger (1-5). 2B – Preston Fry (FM), Ethan Neely (RH), LOB – Fort Mill 7, Rock Hill 9. Leading hitters: Nathan Helvey 3-4 2 RBI (FM), Andrew Tomasovich 2-4 2 RBI (FM), Preston Fry 2-3 RBI (FM), Brett Netzer 2-4 (FM); Ethan Neely 1-2 2 RBI (RH), Will Reid 1-3 (RH).
Records: Fort Mill 14-3, Rock Hill 7-11-1.