Lancaster Post 31 starting pitcher Jordan Brock woke up feeling good Tuesday. That feeling stuck around all day, and the right-handed hurler struck out 15 batters Tuesday night to help Post 31 to a 5-4 American Legion baseball win over Rock Hill Post 34.
Brock successfully and deceptively mixing up his pitches. He said the process of getting prepared for a start begins in the morning.
“It ain’t just like as soon as you get here, you get prepared. It’s sort of an all-day thing for me,” said Brock, with a big old earring sparkling in each lobe. “Everything went good, pitched good, and still got teammates behind me. I got eight other guys behind me.”
In contrast, Rock Hill (1-2) used six pitchers, including starter Colton Pagoota, Fuller Wilson, Trent Autry, Sadler Poe and Stewart Hodge, before Garrett Rast tossed the top of the ninth. With five games this week, the goal was to use the bullpen and keep some arms fresh, a very different strategy from Lancaster, which relied on Brock to go the whole way. He held the hosts to just three hits, despite walking six.
“Guy threw it across the plate, we just didn’t catch up with it,” said Rock Hill coach Mike Scott. “They kept us off-stride on a couple of curveballs, and we just weren’t able to figure him out tonight.”
Lancaster (3-2) moved into the lead in the first inning, Evan Flynn’s deep shot to left field bounding off the fence and over for a 1-0 lead.
The visitors added two more in the top half of the second. Chandler Neal was hit by a pitch, Brady Collins singled and Brock drew a walk to load the bags. Rock Hill starter Pagoota walked Corley Faulkenberry to make it 2-0, before making way for Wilson. He only threw to one batter, walking Trey Payne to make it 3-0. Autry then took Wilson’s spot on the bump, duping Flynn into a ground-out to conclude the frame.
Rock Hill pulled two runs back in the bottom of the third inning. Chester High School’s Chase Williford, playing for Rock Hill because Chester didn’t field a legion team this summer, jump-started a two-out rally with a walk, before Brock walked Drew Patrick and Autry to load the bases. Garrett Rast then reached when the shortstop made an ill-advised throw to second, allowing Rast to make first and a run to score, cutting the Lancaster lead to 3-1. Pagoota followed with a jab to third that the fielder couldn’t squeeze, bringing home another run for a 3-2 score. Brock finally coaxed a lazy drive to end the inning.
Lancaster padded its lead through an Austin Caskey RBI sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth, but Rock Hill tied the contest in the bottom of the seventh with a pair of runs. Williford got on board after getting drilled in the back by Brock and he stole second and third base, before finally scoring when five Lancaster infielders surrounded Autry’s pop-up, only to watch it plop to the grass.
Rast, the former Northwestern catcher signed with Winthrop, made it 4-4 with an RBI triple down the first base line that allowed Autry to trot home.
But Lancaster reclaimed the lead for good in the top of the eighth. Collins singled and Austin Caskey reached by fielder’s choice, with Collins sliding into second safely. Brock then check-swing poked a single into shallow rightfield to load the bases. Faulkenberry’s sacrifice fly made it 5-4, ultimately the winning margin.
Brock improved to 3-0 on the season. He’s won the decision in all three of Lancaster’s victories and pitched a complete game each time, 27 innings total. Sapping, sticky humidity wasn’t going to keep him from coming out for the ninth. He did, striking out two and getting Autry to pop out to end the game.
“I just wanted to keep that going,” said Brock.
WP- Jordan Brock; LP- Stewart Hodge; Leading hitters: Lancaster- Evan Flynn 1-3, HR, 2 BB; Jordan Brock 2-3, BB. Rock Hill- Trent Autry 1-2, 2B, BB; Garrett Rast 1-3, RBI 3B; Pagoota 1-3, RBI 1B, BB.
Records: Lancaster (3-2); Rock Hill (1-2)