The Nation Ford Falcons took advantage of eight Rock Hill errors to defeat the Bearcats 10-4 Friday night in the Wheels Invitational at Rock Hill High.
The young Bearcats committed seven errors Thursday in their 18-11 loss to South Pointe. All of the defensive miscues Friday night were made by underclassmen, and five of them were committed by freshmen or sophomores. Of the ten runs, six were unearned.
Nick Hoffman was 2-for-3 with a double and scored three times for the Falcons, and Alex Stennett was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Joseph Wyatt pitched well in relief for Nation Ford with three innings of scoreless ball on only two hits.
The Falcons got three in the second inning when Greg Izzo tripled into the right field corner to score Drake Durham, and Timmy Lehman brought Izzo in with a double to right. Nation Ford got two unearned runs in the third as Rock Hill committed two errors in the inning, with the second run coming home on a wild pitch.
The Bearcats got on the board in the bottom half of the inning when Anthony Alejandro walked and came home on a two-out base hit to left by Brandon Banks. Alejandro, a freshman, reached base all three at-bats, and Banks was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and an RBI.
Rock Hill nearly pulled even in the fourth with three more runs. Matt Coulson had a two-run double and Jeremy De Los Santos, a sophomore, laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that plated Coulson and cut the Falcons’ lead to 5-4. They left the potential tying run stranded at second to end the inning.
However, the Bearcats’ defense let them down again in the fifth as Nation Ford got three more with the help of three more Rock Hill errors to make it 8-4. Bearcat pitchers also hit two batters in the inning and walked one.
In the Falcons’ sixth, Hoffman doubled and scored on a throwing error by the pitcher.
Just when it looked like Rock Hill had righted the ship and might tie things up, the Bearcat defense fell apart in the fifth with three errors after Hoffman and Stennett led off the inning with base hits. The Rock Hill pitchers did not help themselves in the frame either with two hit batters and a walk. Nation Ford took advantage with three runs to pull away again and double up the Bearcats 8-4. Rock Hill would not threaten again.
After the Bearcats got some momentum going with the three fourth-inning runs, they had the tying run in scoring position as well. Alejandro executed an outstanding bunt down the third-base line for a base hit and advanced to second on the sacrifice bunt by De Los Santos. But Connor Brown got Conner Edkins to fly out to center to end the inning.
Wyatt only allowed two hits and no runs in the final three innings after Rock Hill had built some offensive momentum. Banks drove in the Bearcats’ first run and Coulson had the biggest hit of the night for Rock Hill, with the two-RBI double that brought Rock Hill within a run.
“I think our approach at the plate the last two days has been a lot better than it was against South Pointe,” Nation Ford coach Stas Swerdzewski said of the opening game Wednesday. “I just really liked what I saw from our guys tonight and hopefully that continues as we march on the last two weeks of the season and hopefully into the playoffs.”
Nation Ford will play Greater Cabbarus at 10 at South Pointe on Saturday. The Bearcats play St. Vincent Pallotti at the same time at Rock Hill High.
Nation Ford 10, Rock Hill 4
Connor Brown and Joseph Wyatt. Garrett Gwin, Brock Rodgers, and Wes Bostic. WP - Brown. LP - Gwin. 2B - Nick Hoffman and Timmy Lehman (NF); Noah Gammons, Matt Coulson, and Brandon Banks (RH). 3B - Greg Izzo (NF). Leading hitters: NF - Hoffman 2-3, 2B, HBP, 3 R; Alex Stennett 2-4, 2 R; Beau Sluder 1-2, HBP. RH - Banks 2-3, 2B, BB, RBI; Gammons 3-4, 2B, R; Coulson 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI, R; Anthony Alejandro 1-2, BB, R.