HAZLEHURST - The Wesleyan Wolves may have earned a split on Tuesday at Jeff Davis, but one got the impression that it could have been more.
"This is a tough place to play as we found out today," Wesleyan head coach Mike Shaheen said. "We're excited to get back for a Game 3, but it's a little frustrating too. We felt like we had them on the ropes up 3-0 in Game 2, but we let them come back."
After winning Game 1 4-1, the Wolves jumped out to a lead in Game 2 and were cruising, until the game turned with the simple act of aluminum hitting leather.
With the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, Jeff Davis' Daniel McNeal sent a short pop-up that sailed foul past third base.
However, on the swing's follow through, Wesleyan catcher Chris Jensen's glove hit McNeal's bat and McNeal was awarded first base on catcher's interference, driving home the first run of the game for the Yellow Jackets.
Kelly Williams then hit a double to the gap to score two and tie the game off of eventual losing pitcher Kevin Ruiz (0-1) and force the decisive Game 3, which takes place in Hazlehurst today at noon.
"We got a couple of breaks tonight, and when one starts going then it gets contagious," Jeff Davis head coach Paul Glass said.
"They didn't have anything to get up about before that, but that inning really got a little hop in our step."
Ruiz was able to stop the bleeding and hold the hosts to three runs, but the hop in their step followed the Jackets to the field as McNeal came out and shut the Wolves' bats down for the last two innings.
"We were hitting very well in the first game, I was a little surprised that we didn't hit better in the second," Shaheen said. "(Today) we've just got to do a better job of getting the job done. We left lots of men on base."
Ruiz didn't have as much luck, allowing a leadoff single in the seventh to Williams and then a gapper to Ryan Harrelson to score the Yellow Jackets' speedy right fielder for the go-ahead run.
"They were just able to hit him tonight," Shaheen said. "It's funny, he can go in and shut out a AAAAA school like Chattahoochee 1-2-3, but they were just able to see the ball tonight."
The Wolves will send Tony Plagman (7-1, 1.96 ERA) to the mound for Game 3, a calculated move on Shaheen's part to get him an extra day of rest, though hoping that they wouldn't need him.
"We have our ace going (today) so I guess it's about as good as we can have it, but who knows, if we had pitched him today we may not have a tomorrow," Shaheen said. "We just have to go out and get it done."
They could use a performance from Plagman like the one that they got from Grayson Garvin in the Wolves' 4-1 Game 1 win.
The Wesleyan sophomore overcame some early wildness to pitch a complete-game three-hitter and earn the win.
The big hit came from Plagman, who hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning to put the Wolves on the board with the 2-1 lead.
Garvin ran into the bulk of his difficulty early in the game, as he walked the first batter, Chase Varnadone, who then advanced to second and third on wild pitches.
Daniel McNeal then drove him in with a bloop single over the second baseman's head to give the Yellow Jackets the 1-0 lead.
He quickly settled down after the first, allowing no hits after the third inning and getting a little help from his defense.
The Yellow Jackets had a few base runners on walks and errors, but the Wolves were able to turn a double play to erase some and catcher Chris Jensen was able to pick a runner off first to derail any Jeff Davis opportunities.
Wesleyan added some insurance runs in the sixth and seventh.
Designated hitter Rick Anderson capped his 3-for-3 day with a single to lead off the sixth, then pinch runner Max Hightower advanced to third on a wild pickoff attempt and scored with a head-first slide on a sacrifice fly by Alex Bayer to make it 3-1.
In the seventh, James Ramsey added his fifth home run of the season to right field to make it 4-1.
That was all Garvin needed, as he struck out the last two hitters of the game to slam the door on the Wesleyan win.