York powered past top-seeded Rock Hill 11-8 in the first round of the Class AAAA baseball playoffs.
Cougars pitcher Tyler Saboley went the distance against the Bearcats to earn the complete game victory. After being rattled in the fifth inning, the Cougars defense got behind Saboley to fend off Rock Hill's late-game comeback bid.
"We needed a good win, especially against a No. 1 seed," Saboley said while cracking a grin and holding the game ball in his hand. "I knew I had to be on my 'A game' tonight versus Rock Hill. They're a pretty good team and it worked out in our favor tonight."
With the win, York advances to play at Hillcrest today at 7:30 p.m., while Rock Hill hosts Greenwood in an elimination game.
Rock Hill (21-5), ranked third in the latest AAAA state poll, needed a comeback to outlast York (16-8) three weeks ago in the semifinals of the Wheels Baseball Invitational. The Bearcats edged York 12-10 in that game played at The Winthrop Ballpark. That game, according to York coach Scot Kiggans, proved to his players they had what it takes to compete with top-tier teams like the Bearcats.
"That game was big in our eyes," he said. "But our kids in that game gained some confidence against them. We've had three great days of practice and we were focused on nothing but Rock Hill and now we focus on Hillcrest."
With York leading 5-3 in the middle of the fifth inning, Rock Hill mounted a short-lived comeback bid.
"It would have been real easy to pack it up after (York) had that big inning, but we came back and had a chance to tie it up in the end," said Rock Hill coach Chris Bates.
Dylan McCann and Brantley Rumford reached base on singles. Alex Wilson then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance them and Josh Bowers was hit to load the bases with one out. Micheal Hill singled and then back-to-back throwing errors cleared the bases to give Rock Hill a 6-3 lead.
York quickly answered in the top of the sixth and regained the lead after costly Bearcat errors. The Cougars batted through the lineup en route to scoring 6 runs to take an 11-5 lead.
Guy Mazzell reached on a leadoff error and Dustin Victor singled. Rock Hill then pulled starting pitcher Logan Cribb in favor of Bowers. Brett O'Neil reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases with no outs and then Bowers hit Cody Cushman to give York a run. York put 6 runs on the scoreboard, all credited to Cribb, before Bowers was able to settle down and retire three of the final four Cougars.
Saboley faced three Bearcats in the sixth and sent them all back to the dugout scratching their heads wondering if a comeback bid was possible.
Bowers struckout the side in the seventh, giving the Bearcats a glimmer of hope for a last-inning rally. Rock Hill only mustered two runs in the final frame.
YORK 11, ROCK HILL 8
Logan Cribb and Ross Lisee. Taylor Saboley and Josh Vallejos. W -- Saboley. L -- Cribb. 2B -- Greene, Sizemore. 3B -- Rumford, Cribb.
Leading hitters: Rock Hill -- Rumford 3-4, 3B. York -- Sizemore 3-4 2 2B, Victor 2-3 2 1B.