FORT MILL – Hot hitting and an appetite for the long ball gave the Nation Ford an 8-1 win over crosstown rivals Fort Mill Friday night.
The Falcons hit three home runs, two coming off the bat of third baseman Brandon Fite and the other coming from first baseman Cole Avery, as they scattered 10 hits in the game in the win.
Nation Ford head coach Mike Matkovich said it’s the best he has seen his team play.
“We swung the bats as good as we have in two years,” Matkovich said. “From top to bottom that was our best game.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Herald
However, it was the Jackets that struck first. Fort Mill’s Brett Netzer led the game off with a triple to left center and would later score on a passed ball giving the Jackets the early 1-0 lead. Despite also giving up a single to Fort Mill’s Jackson Massey, Falcons’ starter Josh Jones would calm down and get out of the inning without allowing another run.
In the bottom of the first, Nation Ford would get the first two batters on base and a single from Dalton Helms would load things up for Jacob Wright, who singled in two runs to give the Falcons the lead 2-1. Nation Ford would pad that lead on the next hitter as Avery hit a three-run Carlton Fisk-like home run that just stayed fair down the left field line.
That bomb led to a 5-1 lead for Nation Ford and got Fort Mill starter Garrett Leonard pulled after just one third of an inning. He would be replaced by Jesse Horine, who would get out of the inning for the Jackets.
Fort Mill started to try and chip away at Nation Ford as Clay Helvey would lead the second inning off with a single. He would be left stranded on second as Jones would strike out two of the next three batters.
Nation Ford continue to go off with their bats as Fite would hit a solo shot in the bottom of the second inning to make it 6-1 and Clay Hunt would double as Fort Mill struggled on the mound.
The Jackets put two runners on in the third inning to start things off as a Falcons’ error and a walk from Jones opened things up for Fort Mill giving them their best opportunity all game. Massey would walk to load the bases as Jones got in his first jam of the night.
However, he battled back to get a strikeout and a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning without allowing a run.
“We got behind early and couldn’t dig out of it,” said Fort Mill head coach Brad Mercer. “We felt like we had a good game plan coming in.”
The Falcons’ bats were alive almost through the entire order as its ninth hitter Justin Borland would drive in Avery, who reached on a single in the third inning to continue to add to Nation Ford’s lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Fite would again get to Fort Mill’s pitching as he would crush his second home run, again to left field to lead off the inning.
“I was seeing a lot of curve balls, but they made a mistake and threw me a fastball,” Fite said.
Horine would then be replaced on the mound by Fort Mill teammate Nick Matchunis, who would get the Jackets out of the inning without allowing another run.
On the other hand, Jones would go six innings for Nation Ford, allowing just one run on six hits as he struck out five and walked one.
Nation Ford 8, Fort Mill 1
Fort Mill 100 000 0 – 1 7 2
Nation Ford 511 100 x – 8 10 1
Garrett Leonard, Jesse Horine (1), Nick Matchunis (4) and Justin Tepper (FM); Josh Jones, Clay Hunt (7) and Nick Hoffman (NF). W – Josh Jones, L – Garrett Leonard. 2B – Clay Hunt (NF), 3B – Brett Netzer (FM), HR – Cole Avery (NF), Brandon Fite (NF) 2. LOB – Fort Mill 4, Nation Ford 6. Leading hitters – Fort Mill: Brett Netzer 2-4 3B; Nation Ford: Cole Avery 2-3 HR, 3 RBI, Brandon Fite 2-3 2 HR, 2 RBI.
Records: Fort Mill 6-3, 6-2 Region III-AAAA; Nation Ford 7-7, 6-3 Region III-AAAA.