The ball appeared to hold within the air for minutes.
Zach Jennings, the ultimate batter in Saturday afternoon’s 5A state championship collection finale in Blythewood, swung and launched a fly ball to left subject. It floated and floated and floated, and each Fort Mill participant and coach and fan in attendance held out hope that it might by no means come down — that Fort Mill’s season and its quest for its first state championship in 20 years may keep alive.
The ball fell, although, because it all the time does.
And Fort Mill (25-9) gamers watched from their dugout as Berkeley gamers tossed their gloves into the cloudless sky, mobbed the pitcher’s mound and celebrated the college’s first all-time state championship. The Stags received, 3-1, in a recreation that noticed all 4 complete runs scored within the second inning.
“Listen, you can’t take away what these kids did right here,” Fort Mill head coach Travis Collier mentioned. “You can’t take that away. You gotta be so proud. I’m proud. Win or lose, I knew I was going to be proud of these kids because they’ve earned this. … That’s a special, special group.”
Collier, a Fort Mill High alum who was on the Yellow Jackets’ most up-to-date title workforce in 2002, credited his workforce’s seniors for serving to revitalize baseball in Fort Mill, going from a .500 workforce to 6 consecutive profitable seasons, together with this yr by which Fort Mill received 18 video games earlier than May started.
“They’ve revived baseball in Fort Mill,” Collier mentioned. “They had a lot of people behind them and doing a lot of things for them. This is awesome. These fans right here, they rallied for us, and we’re just extremely blessed and excited to be here. But we’re very proud of this group.”
The Yellow Jackets struck first. In the highest of the second, with two outs, Brent Laughter doubled into left subject. Zach Jennings then adopted him within the order and singled to ship Laughter house to make the rating 1-0.
Berkeley wasn’t fazed. The subsequent half-inning, Connor Barham reached when he was hit by a pitch. Rhett Legette and Austin Hewette adopted with two singles to load the bases with just one out.
Then, Jackson Proctor — Berkeley’s junior left fielder who’s dedicated to Clemson — doubled to proper subject to ship in Barham and Legette to make the rating 2-1.
Mason Salisbury singled after Proctor, sending in Hewette and pushing the rating to 3-1.
The subsequent 5 innings featured six three-up, three-down half innings. There have been nonetheless Fort Mill alternatives, together with within the high of the fifth, when the Yellow Jackets had two runners on base with two outs — however this recreation largely was a defensive battle.
And a whole lot of that needed to do with the pitchers on the mound Saturday.
The profitable pitcher, Berkeley’s Miller McGuire, threw a whole recreation, permitting the one run and 5 hits whereas dominating regardless of solely throwing one strikeout.
And Fort Mill’s vendor, Connor Rasmussen, threw an ideal recreation, too, hurling 5.1 innings and hanging out 4 whereas permitting simply seven hits. Mathieu Curtis relieved Rasmussen for the ultimate two outs of the underside of the sixth.
After the sport, the Fort Mill senior pitcher and East Carolina signee mentioned the loss stung. He mentioned that it “just wasn’t our day today,” including that his workforce had a couple of well-hit balls directed proper at Berkeley fielders and different moments that “are part of this game.”
“This senior class gave everything to this program,” Rasmussen mentioned. “We had kids who weren’t with us freshman year who played a big role. And I’ve been a part of this since my freshman year. And we definitely left it better than we found it. And that was the main goal we had.”
WP: Miller McGuire, LP: Connor Rasmussen. Hitters: FM: Rasmussen 1-2; Luke Garabedian 1-3; Brent Laughter 1-3; Jennings 2-3 RBI. B: Jackson Proctor 1-3, 2 RBI; Mason Salisbury 2-3; Hayden Newbold 1-2 RBI; Hudson Clark 1-3; Rhett Legette 1-2; Austin Hewette 1-3.