In the end, one bad inning derailed Fort Mill American Legion Post 43.
Fort Mill Post 43 needed to sweep a doubleheader against Greer Post 115 Friday to win the American Legion state title at Columbia Fireflies’ home field of Segra Park. Post 43 won the first game 4-0, but fell in game two 7-3 after a bad first inning.
Both teams will now travel to Tampa to participate in the Southeast Regional tournament as part of the road to the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C. Only the winner of the Southeast Regional will advance to the World Series.
The regional tournament will include state champions from Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and Tennessee. The regional tournament runs Aug. 7-11.
Fort Mill is now 22-4 overall.
“I told our players to keep their heads up high and be proud of what you have accomplished,” said Post 43 head coach Tom Skula. “We didn’t reach one of our goals in winning a state championship, but we have achieved higher than any other Fort Mill Legion team since the team’s creation. This has been an incredible run, but it is not over yet. We still have a lot more baseball to play in Tampa.”
In game one against Greer, Fort Mill was led by Jeff Maidhof on the mound. He pitched a one-hit complete game shutout. Maidhof struck out six Greer batters.
Post 43 got seven hits. The team was led by Carson Jones who went 2-3 with a double and two RBI.
Post 43 used a four run, fourth inning to get the runs they needed in game one. Bradley Bott was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Fort Mill would then rattle off five consecutive hits.
Connor Rasmussen, JT Marr, Cameron Greene singled before Daniel Gueldner hit a double to score a run and Jones added a double to score two runs.
Marr won the Sportsmanship Award for the state tournament for Fort Mill.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better start from Maidhof in game one,” Skula said. “We felt good going into game two, but unfortunately we were not able to get the job done.”
With everything riding on one game, Fort Mill started to run out of pitching. Bott made just his first start of the summer. He struggled early, allowing four walks in one third of an inning. He was removed and Post 43’s bullpen struggled as well, walking three more. Greer ended their half of the inning with a 5-0 lead.
Fort Mill then had a hard time hitting the ball. Greer’s Josh Fenton didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning.
In that inning, Gueldner led off with a single and Jones hit a single before Justin Kerosetz drove Gueldner in on a sacrifice. Two batters later, Alan Stevens, who led Fort Mill going 2-3, drove in Jones on an RBI single.
Greer would add runs in the second and sixth inning. Fort Mill scored in the seventh on another RBI single from Stevens, who drove in Xavier Cumbee, who had doubled earlier in the inning.
“We played five games in five days and unfortunately we ran out of pitching in game two,” Skula said. “We just didn’t execute well on the mound and at the plate.”