Rock Hill used two big innings Saturday night to down Union and earn a trip to the American Legion state championship tournament.
Post 34 scored four runs in the first and four more in the fourth on its way to an 8-3 victory in Game 5 of the best-of-five series against Post 22. Union threatened several times, but left 13 runners on base – including nine over a four-inning stretch.
Trent Autry was the star for Rock Hill, going 2-for-4 at the plate with 5 RBIs. The rising senior at Chester High School also picked up the victory on the mound, giving up three hits and striking out six in 5 2/3 innings of relief.
“He’s an amazing player,” said Rock Hill coach Mike Scott. “With him out there I say ‘wow’ two or three times a game.”
Autry got Rock Hill off to a fast start with a three-run homer in the first. Autry’s blast chased Union starting pitcher Jake Smith, who didn’t record an out.
Jason Taylor replaced Smith and gave up an RBI single to Cody Atkins. Rock Hill batted around in the inning, collecting five hits and a walk on the way to a 4-0 lead.
Union cut the lead to 4-1 on Smith’s RBI single in the third.
It was the only run surrendered by Rock Hill starter Stuart Hodge, who exited after three innings. Hodge threw 114 pitches against Union on Thursday night.
Union loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but Autry took the mound and got two outs to end the threat.
Rock Hill broke the game open with a four-run fourth inning. Post 34 got five straight two-out hits, including a two-run double from Autry.
Union scratched for a run in the seventh, when Michael Todd Harris singled home Bryan Arnold. Post 22 scored its final run in the ninth, courtesy of two Rock Hill errors.
“Union is a really good team,” Scott said. “I felt like we were the underdogs.”