The Fort Mill Yellow Jackets got solid pitching and five first-inning runs to defeat the Oxford Hills Vikings 9-1 Wednesday on the opening day of the 2016 Wheels Invitational at Northwestern.
Wednesday was the first game action of the season for the Vikings, who traveled all the way from Maine, where snow is still on the ground. They lost 10-3 to defending champion Faith Baptist in the first game of the day. While the Vikings did commit five errors and hit four batters, Fort Mill had 10 hits and six of their runs were earned as they took advantage of their opportunities.
Jack Corkery and Hunter Helms, who was 2-for-4, each had run-scoring hits in the first inning. Corkery drove in two. Nick Manco and Jacob Wood had RBI-base hits in the second and third innings respectively, as did Logan Miller in the fifth.
Oxford Hills could never put more than one runner on in an inning, until the sixth. Kaden Cutler walked with two outs, and Matt Smith scored him with a double to left field. Smith was 2-for-3.
Leadoff hitter Joey Tepper reached base four times for Fort Mill and scored twice. Corkery started on the mound for the Yellow Jackets and pitched three scoreless innings while only allowing one hit. Clay King followed that performance with two more shutout frames and also allowed only one base knock. Hayden Mobbs struck out two as he closed it out in the seventh inning.
Fort Mill jumped on the rusty Vikings with the five-run first inning and really never looked back. The Yellow Jackets had three hits in the inning and capitalized on two walks, two hit batters, and a wild pitch.
Oxford Hills contributed to their own demise with the five errors and four hit batters. Fort Mill also flashed some leather, with the catcher Helms making a nice grab of a foul-pop up against the fence beside the Viking dugout in the third inning.
Tepper was 2-for-3 and Ryan Reyes was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Corkery had the two-run hit in the first and threw three one-hit innings.
“Those guys were a little rusty because they hadn’t been out on the field a lot,” Fort Mill coach Brad Mercer said. “But you can’t take anything away from our kids playing hard. We capitalized on a few mistakes and the pitchers did a good job of keeping the ball around the plate. When we started off we put the ball in play, hit behind runners, and did the little things.”
“With the top of our lineup doing a good job of getting on, it changes the whole complexion of the game,” Mercer said. “We’ve been preaching to put the pressure on the defense and make them make plays and good things will happen.”
“Only starting two seniors, the kids are playing hard and learning and that’s all we can ask from them,” Mercer said.
Fort Mill is scheduled to play Midland Valley at 4 on Thursday and Northwestern at 7. Both games are at Northwestern. Oxford Hill next plays on Friday at Northwestern against Midland Valley at noon and against Northwestern at 3.
Fort Mill 9, Oxford Hills 1
Jack Corkery, Clay King, Logan Miller, and Hayden Mobbs. Bailey West, Troy Johnson, and Andrew Fleming. WP - Corkery. LP - West. 2B - Matt Smith (OH). Leading hitters: FM - Joey Tepper 2-3, HBP, BB, 2 R; Hunter Helms 2-4, RBI; Ryan Reyes 2-4, 2 R. OH - Smith 2-3, 2B, RBI. Records - Fort Mill 1-0, Oxford Hills 0-2.