Spartans score plenty; split with N. Oconee

BOGART - After the first two games of the Class AA state baseball playoffs, it was apparent that Greater Atlanta Christian brought its bats to its opening round series against North Oconee.

However following an 11-10 win in Game 1, GAC was unable to calm the bats of North Oconee and suffered a 16-9 defeat to tie the best-of-three series at 1-1.

"I thought they did well", GAC head coach Cliff Shelton said of his team. "...First game we did well, if we had gotten a little bit of pitching in the second game we would have had a chance to win, you think if you score nine runs you may have chance, tomorrow might be a slugfest."

GAC got things going early, in the first game, as it tagged North Oconee with three runs in the first inning as Andrew Steckenrider and Justin Ernest each got one-run singles in the first. North Oconee answered with three in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game.

Steckenrider struck again with another RBI single in the third as GAC created separation in the middle innings with three runs in the third and fourth innings to go up 9-3.

However, North Oconee mounted a furious comeback as Taylor Hicks blasted a Brent Burrows pitch over the left centerfield wall for a grand slam to cut GAC's lead to 9-7 after five innings.

After scoring single runs in the sixth and seventh, GAC held on for the one-run win after pitcher Riley Rue got Michael Vogel to ground out to end the game.

In Game 2, pitching took center stage early as North Oconee's Voegel got the first hit of the game in the top of the third inning. North Oconee capitalized on its opportunity, as Voegel later scored the first run of the game to give his team a 1-0 lead before it opened the floodgates. Voegel would be heard from again in the inning as he launched a three-run homer over the right field wall, capping an eight-run inning.

"We just didn't have it," Shelton said about his pitching in Game 2. "It happens sometimes... if we had lost the first game, I'm throwing everybody I've got, you win that first game you've got to keep something in your hip pocket."

GAC's Patrick Savage tried his best to bring his team back with a three-run bomb in the third and a solo homer in the fifth. However after Matt Carter brought GAC to within 10-6 with a homer in the fifth, Josh Amiable and Hicks, who had six RBIs on the day, hit back-to-back solo homers to extend North Oconee's lead to 12-6. North Oconee tacked on some runs late to make it a 16-9 final score. Despite the plethora of runs allowed, Shelton is fairly confident that his team can win the third and deciding game today at 2 p.m.

"If we get any pitching at all we can win, we scored nine runs on their ace, but that is a big if."