Logan Cribb's left shoulder was covered with tape and a bag of ice. The rain was picking up and while his teammates dragged tarps onto the Rock Hill Bearcats' baseball diamond, Cribb and another teammate were outside the fence in center to remove Old Glory from its flagpole and fold it into place to keep it as dry as possible.
Cribb had just struggled through an uncharacteristic pitching outing in an 8-5 win over Fort Mill in the day's second pool play game of the Wheels Baseball Invitational at Rock Hill.
With its 5-1 lead heading into the third, Rock Hill coach Chris Bates and the Bearcats' defense put the game on Cribb's shoulders. Cribb, who is committed to The Citadel, didn't stage a strikeout streak - he had only three - and was hittable - he gave up nine before being pulled in the top of the seventh. What he did do well was fire strikes and make the Yellow Jackets put the ball in play.
"My location was good, I just wasn't getting anything on the ball,'' Cribb said. "I was saved because we got some good hits and I had to depend on my defense. They turned two double plays. But it happens. You can't pitch your best game every time.''
The top of the first should have been a sign.
Fort Mill leadoff hitter Garrett Ray grounded out. There would have been two outs if third baseman Michael Hill had managed to handle a slow roller off the bat of Kody Hartley.
Jordan Griffin drilled a hit-and-run single between third and short. Alex Tomasovich hit a high chopper between third and the mound that Cribb stabbed with his bare hand.
Cribb held the ball and all runners were safe on the infield hit to load the bases.
Preston Fry walked and forced Hartley home. Cribb uncorked a wild pitch that hit the backstop and bounced back to Ross Lisee, who raced to the plate and tagged out Griffin. Cribb struck out Zac Fry to dodge further trouble.
Rock Hill (13-2) tied the game in the bottom of the frame when leadoff batter Brantley Rumford, who reached on an error, scored from third on a passed ball.
The Bearcats scored four runs in the last of the second thanks to three extra-base hits. Zach Knight and Lisee drilled doubles. Josh Bowers launched an RBI triple to center that scored Alex Wilson, who ripped a run-scoring single one spot ahead of Bowers.
Fort Mill (9-8) added single runs in the third and fourth. Rock Hill scored two more in the third when Cribb was knocked in by Luke Werner's single and Knight scored on an error.
"We got some good hits off a pitcher (Alex Tomasovich) with the best velocity we've seen,'' Rock Hill coach Bates said. "But to our credit, we did a good job a couple of times scoring with two outs. What I hate for the kids is we didn't score in the last two innings, breaking our streak of 10 straight with at least one run.''
Bowers led off the Bearcats' half of the fourth with a double and easily scored when Lisee followed with another two-bagger. Leading 8-3, Cribb settled down and got the Yellow Jackets out in order in the fifth and sixth. He lost steam in the seventh.
Hartley was safe on a Bearcats' fielding error to begin the frame. That brought up Griffin, who blasted a two-run homer deep over the left-field fence. Bowers came on with no outs and retired Alex Tomasovich. He walked Preston Fry and allowed a single to Andrew Tomasovich.
Bowers struck out the next two batters to end the game and earn a save.
It was the end of a long day for Fort Mill, which had a 19-15 marathon win over Franklin (N.C.) in the opening game. There were 32 hits, 15 by Fort Mill.
"It's tough on a team to play a game like our first one, then turn around and play a team as good as Rock Hill 30 minutes later,'' Fort Mill coach Brad Mercer said. "We got our hits, but we ran low on pitching. Rock Hill was the better team. To beat them we needed good pitching and had to outscore them."
ROCK HILL 8
FORT MILL 5
Nathan Helvey, Cody Moody (4) and Garrett Ray. Logan Cribb and Ross Lisee. W - Cribb. L -- Helvey. S - Bowers. 2B - Jordan Griffin (FM), Garrett Ray (FM), Zach Knight (RH), Lisee 2 (RH), Josh Bowers (RH). 3B - Bowers (RH). HR - Griffin (FM).
Records - Rock Hill 13-2 Fort Mill 9-8
FORT MILL 19
FRANKLIN (N.C.) 15
Alex Tomasovich, Spencer Allison ( 2), Bradley Moffit (5), Nick Flores (5), Kody Hartley (6) and Cody Moody. Cody Brabson, Austin Bishop (5), Lance Rehkopf (5), Colton Gimble (6) and Parrish Young. W - Allison. L - Brabson. 2B - Matt Crawford (F), Frank Carpazzo (F), Brandon Williams 2 (F), Andrew Thomasovich 3 (FM), Jordan Griffin (FM), Alex Tomasovich (FM), Preston Fry (FM), Nathan Helvey (FM). 3B - P. Fry (FM). HR - Williams (F), Tyler Brackett (F), Bishop (F).
Records - Fort Mill 9-7
2 p.m. Brook Point vs. Hidden Valley
5 p.m. Hidden Valley vs. Lancaster
8 p.m. Brook Point vs. Northwestern
Rock Hill pool
2 p.m. Franklin vs. St. Vincent Pallotti
5 p.m. St. Vincent Pallotti vs. Fort Mill
8 p.m. Rock Hill vs. Franklin
South Pointe pool
2 p.m. York vs. Padua
5 p.m. South Pointe vs. Tallwood
8 p.m. Padua vs. South Pointe