Rock Hill Post 34 got a complete game pitching performance from Stuart Hodge, great defense, and timely hitting to defeat Union Post 22 3-2 Thursday night at Rock Hill High. The win gives Post 34 a 2-1 edge in the teams’ American Legion playoff series.
“Stuart Hodge pitched a whale of a game and Garrett Rast called a good game behind the plate,” Rock Hill coach Mike Scott said. “Coaching on the bench, Will Chitwood told me ‘stick with Stuart.’ ”
Rock Hill missed an early scoring chance by leaving the bases loaded in the first after a single by Chase Watts and two walks.
Union took the lead in the third with two runs. Charles Johnson led off with a sharp base hit down the third base line. Josh Gass bunted him to second and with two outs Jake Smith’s liner to left made it 1-0. Larecus Hughes followed with a double to the right field fence to score Smith for a 2-0 lead. Hughes and Johnson were both 2-for-4.
Post 34 answered in the bottom half with two of its own. Chase Williford led off with a base hit to right. An out later, Trent Autry doubled to left to put two runners in scoring position. With two outs, Colton Pagoota doubled to the fence in right-center to score both runners and tie the score.
Rock Hill took the lead in the fourth on a two-out base hit from Williford that plated Chance Montgomery, who also singled.
Montgomery made a nice play to get Rock Hill out of the top of the sixth. Post 22 pitcher Michael Todd Harris popped a ball into shallow right with runners on the corners and two outs, but Montgomery ran it down and made a sliding grab to end the inning.
Union had a chance to tie it in the eighth with a runner on second and one out. Jason Taylor grounded to the shortstop but the runner took off for third and Williford threw to Autry at third, who made the tag for the second out. Bryan Arnold followed by lining out to deep right to end the inning.
Post 34’s John Robbins continued what was a great defensive game by both teams in the top of the ninth. Robbins came into the game in the second inning to replace Drew Patrick, who injured himself when he was thrown out trying to steal second. Harris led off the ninth for Post 22 with a sinking line drive into left, but Robbins stretched out to make a diving catch for the first out and squelch what could have been a rally-starter.
“Our outfield play has been phenomenal,” Scott said. “Those guys have been running down balls and making catches I just can’t believe. Each one of these guys is just as good. I can’t get hurt whoever I put in.”
Hodge finished off his complete game to move Rock Hill within one win of clinching the series. Hodge only allowed two runs on seven hits to get the victory. Harris also went the distance for Union and gave up three runs on nine hits while striking out five and walking three. Williford was 2-for-4 with an RBI for Post 34. Watts was also 2-for-4 and Pagoota was 2-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI, and a walk.
Rock Hill travels to Union Friday for Game 4.
Rock Hill 3, Union 2
|Union Post 22||002||000||000||-||2||7||0|
|Rock Hill Post 34||002||100||00x||-||3||9||0|
Stuart Hodge. Michael Todd Harris. WP - Hodge. LP - Harris. 2B - Trent Autry and Colton Pagoota (2) (RH); Larecus Hughes (Union). Leading hitters: RH - Chase Williford 2-4, RBI, R; Chase Watts 2-4; Pagoota 2-3, BB, 2 2B, RBI. Union - Hughes 2-4, 2B, RBI; Charles Johnson 2-4. Records: Rock Hill 14-4; Union 19-9.