Rock Hill made it 14 straight playoff innings without surrendering a run after the Bearcats beat visiting Byrnes 4-0 Saturday night.
Junior pitcher Will Reid threw the second straight complete game shutout for Rock Hill (16-9) in three days, allowing four hits, walking four, and striking out five. He also smacked a two-run double in the fourth, boosting his pitching efforts.
The Rebels (13-11) stranded nine runners, as Reid worked out of two tight spots in particular to leave a goose egg on the board for Byrnes and leave the Bearcats one game away from the Upper State championship tournament. Rock Hill coach Dell Corley has been delighted with the recent performances of his team that, with only a couple of seniors, wasn’t really expected to do much in the postseason.
“It’s a surprise to do it against the quality teams that we’re facing,” said Corley. “These are some good baseball teams; I watch them in BP (batting practice), I watch them take infield, and these guys are very well-coached.”
That Rock Hill and Byrnes were contesting the winner’s bracket game was certainly unexpected.
Byrnes, a wild-card entry in the state tournament, dumped Greenwood into the elimination game Thursday night with a 4-3 nine-inning win. Rock Hill, the No. 4 seed out of Region 3-AAAA progressed to Saturday’s game in more impressive fashion after pitcher Isaac Rodgers threw a three-hit shutout to beat No. 1 seed Mauldin 5-0 on Thursday.
Byrnes will face Mauldin Monday in an elimination game after the Mavericks beat Greenwood 7-0 Saturday. The Bearcats will host the winner of that game on Wednesday in the District 4 championship series.
Reid walked the first batter of the night, which he said was a sign of early nerves.
“It felt great that my defense was behind me. I didn’t have command of my fastball at all, so I just let them hit it and my defense showed up.”
Byrnes loaded the bases in the third inning, but Reid elicited a pair of line-drive outs to escape. The Rebels then got runners on second and third with one out in the fourth but Reid got a strikeout and a ground ball to end the frame.
The Bearcats did the bulk of their damage during a three-run fourth. Chase Watts, who is batting over .400 this season, led off with a rocket single to third base, before Zach Carter popped a ground-rule double over the right-field fence to put runners on second and third. Reid followed with a stand-up double that brought in both runners for a 3-0 Bearcat lead.
A fourth run came in the fifth inning when Caleb Hamilton led off with a walk, moved to third courtesy of a pair of sacrifice hits, then scored on a wild pitch. Rock Hill has still only scored nine runs through two playoff games, but it’s seven more than they’ve needed.
WP- Will Reid; LP- Hunter Hernandez; Byrnes: Adam Asbill 1-3; Dillon Green 1-2, HBP; Rock Hill: Chase Watts 1-1, BB, sac fly; Will Reid 1-3 2 RBI 2B, Zach Carter 1-2, 2B.
Records: Rock Hill 16-9; Byrnes 13-11.