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Nolan Mills put the Rockets on his back in the field, and Shelby County came up with some big hits to forget a three-game slide with a 10-0 five-inning win over Gallatin County Monday.
Mills threw a perfect game through the run-rule-shortened contest, something head coach Bart Roettger said is a major feat.
"I've been coaching for 11 years and I've never had a pitcher throw a perfect game," he said. "Whether it's five innings or nine innings that's something to be very proud of. He's a converted catcher that is now 3-0 on the season with a .56 ERA. He throws three pitches for strikes and changes his speeds very well, and in high school that's more than enough to be effective."
The Rockets also came alive at the plate in the win. After struggling to get hits with runners in scoring position at the tournament in Elizabethtown over the weekend, the Rockets put up 10 runs in just five innings. Jacob Livers had three RBIs to lead the Rockets and Clay Minor added a two-run single.
"We inserted Jacob into the line-up and he did a great job," Roettger said. "And Clay is our captain, and we feed off of his energy."
Roettger also noted that his team came out focused and ready to play, despite dropping three straight at E-town and with a big district game against Anderson County looming on Thursday.
"I think the guys did a much better job of relaxing and not pressing in this game," he said. "We had a little hop in our step, and that's good to see. We were a little worried about the guys looking ahead, but after the longest pre-game speech of the season the guys came out focused and ready to play. It's great to see them bring a little extra to field when we're playing a regional opponent. They know there's a little more on the line."
Roettger also said that was important to head into Thursday's showdown off a win.
"Confidence is everything in this game, and I think the guys are playing really well right now," he said. "We're still focusing on hitting with runners in scoring position, but our strength is our pitching, defense and athleticism on the bases we utilized that (Monday)."
The Rockets struggled over the weekend dropping three games at the Elizabethtown Spring Break Classic.
Shelby County fell 3-2 to Ohio County, 5-4 to Manual and 7-3 to host Elizabethtown.
However, Roettger said there were several positives that came out of the tournament.
"We're not hitting the panic button," he said. "We left 17 runners on base during the tournament. I told the guys on the way home that if we hit just .294 with runners on, we come out with two more wins. Also, I thought we performed well despite being without five starters at one point. Injuries are no excuse, but at the same time I thought our subs came in and did a good job."
The Rockets loss to Manual came as the result of a controversial call. Shelby County appeared to tie the game in the sixth when Nolan Mills came home after a balk call on a Manual pitcher. However, the umpires huddled together after the call and then reversed it, sending Mills back to third and the winning run from second back to first.
"Right now the ball just isn't bouncing our way," Roettger said. "I'm being very patient with our offense. It's not a lack of effort or mistakes. We're hitting the ball hard, it's just right at people. Eric Standafer, Nolan Mills and Tyler Layton were huge on offense for us this weekend, and Jon Collins and Daniel Davenport were big out of the bullpen. We just need to pull the whole thing together. The one thing we really need to work on is not striking out with runners on -- we did that seven times in nine innings against E-town. We have to make teams make plays to beat us. We're coming along; it's just a matter of time until we put it all together. We have a lot of talent."