Hawkins' hit puts North in second round

ALPHARETTA — The first-round baseball playoff matchup between North Gwinnett and host Milton ended in dramatic fashion Friday night.

After a 7-2 victory in Game 1, the Bulldogs were down to their last out in extra innings in Game 2, trailing Milton 5-4.

In stepped Chris Hawkins with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth and he had to put the ball in the outfield.

With a flick of his wrists he did just that and it was all over for Region 6-AAAAA champion Milton. Hawkins delivered and the Bulldogs won 6-5, sweeping Milton out of the playoffs.

Similar to the first game, the Bulldogs got ahead early and with Daniel Szathmary pitching well, it looked like the Eagles would go down without much of a fight.

North loaded the bases in the first and scored after the Eagles pitcher was called for a balk. The Bulldogs' Adrian Stewart hit a solo shot over the left field wall to give North Gwinnett a 2-0 lead.

That was more than enough for Szathmary. He went five innings strong, giving up just three hits and one earned run, striking out five.

Once Szathmary was out of the game, the bats for the Eagles woke up. They scored a run apiece in the fifth and sixth innings to tie the game at 2-2. Then, after neither team scored in the seventh, the game went to extra innings and the Eagles scored three in the top of the eighth.

North may have been in a hole, but the Milton pitchers did everything they could to help the Bulldogs get in position to win the game. The Eagles walked three straight North batters to start the bottom of the eighth.

North was led by solid pitching performances from Chad White and Szathmary. The two pitchers combined for five strikeouts and gave up just three hits and two runs in a 7-2 win over the Eagles in Game 1.

The Bulldogs put the pressure on the Eagles early with three runs in the top of the first. Seth Bancroft got it started with a single to right and eventually came home on a passed ball.

North scored in back-to-back-to-back innings in the third, fourth, and fifth. Hawkins took Milton's starting pitcher, Tyler Carpenter, deep over the left field wall for a solo shot in the third and Luke Tindol hit a triple to drive in White in the fourth inning.

White pitched four strong innings for the Bulldogs in Game 1. He also helped his own cause swinging the bat going 1-for-2 with an RBI, a run and a sacrifice in the top of third inning that moved his teammates over to second and third. The Bulldogs added two more in the third to extend their lead to 5-2.

The damage had been done and Milton's offense put little pressure on North. Szathmary closed the door when he took over. He only let two Eagles reach base in his three innings of work and struck out two batters.

North first baseman Nick Jones reached base in all five of his plate appearances. He was 3-for-3 with two singles and a double. He had two RBIs, a run and drew two walks.