YORK — The York Comprehensive High School baseball team used the Wheels Invitational Tournament as a confidence-builder, winning two games.
The annual Wheels tourney, which attracts teams from York County as well as heralded out-of-state teams, was held at the three Rock Hill high school baseball sites this season.
For the second straight year, the championship game had a York County flavor, with Fort Mill winning the title by handing Northwestern its first loss of the season. The Yellow Jackets prevailed 5-3 to bring home the championship trophy.
The Cougars picked up their first tournament win by defeating St. Vincent Pallotti 7-2 in a late-morning Friday game at Northwestern that carried over to early afternoon.
York pitcher Luc Greene was the winning pitcher, limiting St. Vincent (Md.) to two runs.
“I pitched with confidence and was able to throw strikes,” Greene said. “My teammates played good defense behind me. We had minimal errors.”
The Cougar hitters put the bat on the ball enough at the Northwestern diamond to secure the win. York got on the board early with two well-placed bunts and a clutch two-run single by Joe Gill.
The Cougars added a run in the third thanks to a single to right-center by junior catcher Hamilton McGarity and an RBI single by senior Cody Ledford.
York head coach Scot Kiggans was positive after the game. “This is a good win for us after three tough losses,” Kiggans said. “Luc Greene pitched an outstanding game.”
Kiggans said five players from were called up from JV for the tournament. “The kids are playing well,” he said.
York lost its first tournament game to Northwestern, one of the elite teams in the state.
The Cougars got on the board in the third inning with a Will Prince lead-off walk. After a double to deep left-center by John Moorefield, Prince scored on a sacrifice to left by Cody Ledford.
The Cougars followed the win against St. Vincent with an 11-7 win against Rocky River.
Kiggans praised tournament organizers for a first-rate event.
“We always enjoy participating in the Wheels Tournament,” he said. “Competing against teams with different styles of play benefits our team.”
The Wheels Invitational Tournament has been a popular addition to the high school baseball spring calendar since its inception in 2006.
The tournament honors Larry “Wheels” Hinson, a longtime youth sports advocate from the area who passed away in 2004. Hinson’s son, Ryan, pitched at Northwestern High School and Clemson University before being drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2009.
The Larry Hinson Memorial Scholarship was launched in 2006 in conjunction with the tournament and provides scholarship money to high school players from Rock Hill, Northwestern, South Pointe and York.
The Wheels has attracted teams from throughout the U.S., and this year was no exception, with teams from Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina participating.
Jim Austin, a fixture with the YCHS Athletic Department as a longtime film crew member at York football games, is one of the movers and shakers that make the Wheels turn. Austin said tournament organizers recovered from a schedule dilemma once rainfall subsided.
“We’ve caught up and things are running smoothly,” he said during Friday’s York-St. Vincent game.
Wheels organizers designated YCHS a host school during last year’s event, with Austin serving as site coordinator.
The York baseball complex received rave reviews from participating teams and fans, including a group from the Charlotte area.
Riding the momentum of their success in the Wheels, the Cougars entered this week with a challenging four-game slate.
The week concludes with home games against non-region opponent Chester on Thursday and Region 3-AAAA foe Nation Ford on Friday.
The Thursday game has been designated Senior Parent Night, with a 6 p.m. start time. Youth Night will be observed Friday, also starting at 6 p.m.
“We encourage Cougar fans to support the team at home this week, especially Senior Parent Night,” said Kiggans.
Scoring summaries of the Cougars’ Tuesday game at South Pointe and the Wednesday home game against Lancaster will appear in next week’s Enquirer-Herald.