American Legion Baseball: Rock Hill Wins SC Championship

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Sam Copeland

Rock Hill Post 34 capped off an exciting week by winning its first American Legion Baseball State Championship in program history.

The team’s 6-3 victory over Camden Post 17 at Columbia on Saturday afternoon propelled Rock Hill to Regionals in Asheboro, North Carolina, which begin next week. The team now boasts an overall rating of 24-4.

Saturday’s victory was particularly impressive as it came against Camden – a team that Rock Hill had lost to earlier in the week.

“I can’t say enough about how this team rebounded from losing on Friday night,” Rock Hill head coach Jeremy McCoy told the Herald on Saturday. “We have now achieved the second objective that we set ourselves at the start of the season.”

Rock Hill came first on the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the top of the third. John Wimmer’s home run along the left field line to the frame started the scoring. With one out, Michael Gibson tripled and scored the second run on a sacrifice fly from Jack Killelea.

Camden responded with a run late in the inning on a sacrifice fly from Brandon Gibbs. Post 34 replied in a hurry. They broke for three runs in the top of the fourth.

Jack Burton walked to open the inning, and Ethan Wilson, who was named tournament MVP, followed with a two-run home run. Kyle Wimmer walked and Ben Rehkow scored a single before Camden turned a double play. Maddox Mobley followed with a single to end the rally.

Rock Hill veered on an insurance run in the top of the sixth. John Wimmer’s one-out double drove into the run, and post 34 led 6-1 heading down the sixth.

Camden did not go quietly. A Rock Hill error gave Camden a runner to start the inning, and Kevin Steelman followed with a two-run homer to cut the deficit to 6-3.

Rock Hill didn’t score in the top of the seventh. Camden rallied late in the inning, but couldn’t score. A batter and two Post 34 errors loaded the bases with two outs. Roman Edwards, who was Rock Hill’s fourth pitcher, was eliminated in the Finals.

Position 34 used four pitchers during the game, and that was by design. Landon Sexton started, and Denis Drinkwater, Gibson and Edwards, who was named the tournament’s most valuable pitcher, also spent time on the mound.

“We have a lot of talent on our pitching team,” McCoy added. “We had planned to use several pitchers today. It gave us a new arm on the mound, and it didn’t allow Camden to focus on our pitchers.

Rock Hill’s victory was also punctuated by excellent defense. A perfectly turned double play snuffed out a goal threat in the second set. Mobley, patrolling center field, hit a perfect home throw to hold off a runner in third and prevent another possible run in fourth. Killilea, the Post 34 catcher, effectively blocked the plate and applied the tag in the fifth inning to prevent another run from going through the plate.

“This whole tournament has been a total team effort,” McCoy said. “We never felt like we were out of a game. We fought in close games in the first two rounds, and we bounced back today.

Rock Hill opened the tournament at home Monday with a 3-2 victory over Greenwood, and followed it up Tuesday with a 3-2 decision on the court against Lexington. Edwards got both victories in relief.

When Thursday rolled around, Rock Hill hit a dozen hits and beat Florence 10-2 at Segra Park. The 8-6 loss to Camden followed on Friday night, before they claimed history.

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The Rock Hill Post 34 defeated Camden for an American Legion baseball state title on Saturday, July 30, 2022. Here is head coach Jeremy McCoy with the championship trophy. Sam Copeland

Fort Mill performs well in junior tournament

In the junior division, Fort Mill Post 43 opened play in the state tournament in Greenwood with a 7-2 loss to Greer. Fort Mill led 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, but Greer scored three times in the fifth and sixth innings to put the game away.

Fort Mill only had four hits in the game. Bradyn Deaton drove in one of Fort Mill’s runs and Killion Bennett scored the other run on a disallowance.

The loss dropped Fort Mill into the losing streak, and they responded with an 11-5 win over Mid-Carolina.

Fort Mill trailed 4-0 after one set, but fought back. An eight-point rally in the fifth inning marked the comeback. Reid Kazmierczak and Aiden Cattarin each had a pair of hits to lead Fort Mill.

Position 43 was knocked out in the third round with an 8-7 loss to South Florence. Fort Mill trailed 6-3 after three sets, but they fought back. They scored twice in the fifth and added two more in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 7-7. South Florence won it with a run in the bottom of the seventh.

Fort Mill only had five hits in the contest. Cattarin led the way with two hits and 3 RBIs. Alex Smith and Bennett both added a hit and threw a run, while Deaton contributed a hit.

Fort Mill finished the season with an overall record of 13-7.

This story was originally published July 31, 2022 8:00 a.m.

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