In a back-and-forth, error-filled heavyweight fight, it was Garrett Rast and the Northwestern Trojans who landed the last punch Friday night at Rock Hill High. Rast launched a two-run bomb of a home run over the left field fence in the top of the seventh to give Northwestern a 7-6 win over the rival Bearcats.
In the top of the seventh, after Rock Hill had just taken a 6-5 lead in their previous at-bat, Josh Crump led off with a walk after three close ball/strike calls. That would prove huge as Rast then connected with his no-doubter to send the visitors and their fans into delirium.
They just believe," Northwestern coach Mitch Walters said. "Even there at the end, if Josh got on we felt we could do something. Garrett had hit the ball well all night. It's just a great high school game."
This was not Rast first game-winner as he delivered in a similar spot against Nation Ford and he relishes these moments.
“It is Rock Hill and we’re at Rock Hill High,” Rast said. “It's a great environment to be in. Their coach has done a great job with their program.”
Both teams committed four errors and Northwestern got charitable in the bottom of the sixth with one out. Conner Edkins reached on a throwing error by the third baseman.
Rodgers would come up with another big hit to tie the game at 5. An out later, a shot to right-center by Hamilton scored Rodgers from first to put the Bearcats back in front.
Rock Hill's first two runners reached in the final half inning. But Stuart Hodge induced a pop to second for the first out. Brandon Banks then laced one to left that looked promising for Rock Hill but it was straight at the left-fielder for the second out.
Hodge struck out Conner Edkins swinging to end the game and the Northwestern celebration was on.
Dupree Hart started the game with a line drive back up the middle and stole second with one out. There was a lengthy timeout as Hart injured his hand sliding into second and was being tended to in the Trojans' dugout. After Will Reid struck out Josh Crump, Garrett Rast came through with a two-out line drive to left-center to put Northwestern up 1-0.
Rock Hill answered in the home half of the first when Reid delivered a two-out hit of his own to left that scored Cody Edkins and tied the score.
The Bearcats broke in front in the bottom of the third. Caleb Hamilton reached on a rare throwing error by Hart at shortstop. Hamilton stole second and came home on Cody Edkins' single to left.
Northwestern reclaimed the lead in the fourth with help from the Bearcats defense. After a leadoff walk to Rast, Colton Pagoota grounded to Hamilton, who threw wide of first to allow both runners to move up.
It appeared Reid would escape after a strikeout and a groundout, but he unhurled a wild pitch to tie the game. Tripp Barringer followed with a base hit down the right field line to put the Trojans ahead. Hart tacked on another run with a base hit to right to make it 4-2.
The home team answered in the bottom half after the first two batters walked and Will Chitwood came out of the game. Chitwood allowed four runs on three hits in three-plus innings. He struck out six. With one out, Issac Rodgers doubled down the third base line to score Reid from second. Bryon Foust followed with a sacrifice fly to left to tie the game at four.
It was the Trojans turn in the fifth when Josh Crump led off with a base hit up the middle. Rast followed with a ground ball that went between the second baseman's legs.
Crump would score to put the Trojans ahead 5-4 on Colton Pagoota's grounder to short.
Northwestern 7 Rock Hill 6
Will Chitwood, Justin Peddy, Stuart Hodge. Will Reid and Zach Carter. WP - Hodge. LP - Carter. Leading hitters: NW - Dupree Hart 2-4, RBI; Garrett Rast 2-3, BB, HR, 3 RBI; RH - Issac Rodgers 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI. Records: Northwestern 11-1, 9-0 Region 3-AAAA; Rock Hill 10-4, 6-2.