DIST. 5-A BASEBALL: Southern Fulton advances to district championship behind Trent Rider's no-hitter
BEDFORD >> The Southern Fulton Indians did not look like themselves in the first few innings of Friday afternoon's baseball game.
They had a pair of errors in the top of the first and didn't notch a hit of their own until the bottom of the third. But none of that mattered in a District 5 Class A semifinal matchup against Berlin.
Southern Fulton ace Trent Rider threw his first-ever high school no-hitter, and the Indians' bats came alive late to take down the Mountaineers, 8-0.
"See, unlike most kids, Trent doesn't lose as the game goes on; he gains velocity," SF coach Dustin Fischer. "They put the bat on the ball, but Trent did what he needed to do, and he still had nine strikeouts."
Rider had four errors behind him, but didn't let that effect him one bit.
"Oh no, our defense is the best high school defense around," Rider said. "I was trying to get ahead every time, and I would give them the first-pitch fastball. They found a way to get the bat on the ball, but I ended up having some great plays behind me, and that was the biggest key."
Southern Fulton (21-1) advances to its second consecutive district championship and will face Meyersdale (20-2) on Thursday in a rematch of last year's title game.
"He's an amazing pitcher, and that was an amazing performance," Berlin coach Stephen Stanley said. "He was very good at changing speeds. He was able to throw everything for a strike, so you couldn't just sit on one pitch and be ready to go swing at it."
Rider didn't get a lot of help from his offense until the third inning. Southern Fulton took advantage of some wild pitching to scratch out a run in the first, but in the third inning, things really started to break open.
With two outs, Connor Litton hit a single, and Dillan Lashley smashed a home run over the leftfield fence to help the Indians gain some momentum.
"I didn't really promise a home run, but (my mom) said she'd offer me 20 bucks, so I delivered," Lashley said. "I think everyone had to get settled in on the speed. (Branden Bowser) was one of the faster pitchers we faced, but I got up there the second time, didn't think about too much and just swung."
Fischer said, "The kids just need something to get them going. The same thing happened in the semifinals last year when Dylan Gordon hit a home run. Lashley did it this time, and they needed that spark to get them out of a funk because they were definitely in a funk."
The Indians added another run via a bases-loaded walk to Zach Clark before the inning's end, and the heavy hitting continued in the fourth. This time, Tristan Douglas drew a walk to start the frame, and Litton followed with a two-run shot to left-centerfield.
Litton wasn't done, either. In the sixth inning, Douglas led off with a single to third, and Litton drove another ball over the fence. He finished 3-for-4 with four runs scored and four RBIs.
"I was just trying to be patient and keep it balanced," Litton said. "I've been working with Steve Kring, and he helped me out a lot and showed me some things that I need to do. He really knows his stuff, so that's why I've been hitting well lately."
Fischer said, "He's been really seeing the ball well. It's no lie that he was slumping for most of the season, but he is finally starting to hit the ball better. Honestly, I'd rather have him do that now than have him hitting the ball well early."
Lashley also finished with a pair of hits, and Douglas scored twice.
Southern Fulton 8, Berlin 0
BerlinSo. FultonabrhbabrhbGooden ss3000Gordon 3b4000Boyce lf3000Dougls 2b3210Bowser p3000Litton ss4434Gross cf3000Lashley cf3122McClucs 3b3000Rider p2010Custer rf3000Mellott cr0000Marker c3000Elbin c21 0 0Walker 1b2000Potter 1b0000Thomas 2b2000Lynch dh0000McCuskr lf3010Clark rf2001Totals25000Totals25887
E: Ber 2, SF 4; DP: Ber 1; LOB: Ber 4, SF 8; 2B: Rider; HR: Litton 2 (3), Lashley (3); SB: Bowser, Lashley 2, Clark, Litton, Mellott; CS: Mellott 2.
So. Fulton pitching
WP: Bowser 1; PB: Ber 3, SF 1.
Catcher's interfernce: SF 1.