0

High-scoring Eagles split series with Harrison

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Teammates congratulate Grant Earls (24) following his home run in the first game of the Eagles' doubleheader against Harrison on Wednesday.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Teammates congratulate Grant Earls (24) following his home run in the first game of the Eagles' doubleheader against Harrison on Wednesday.

SUWANEE -- Collins Hill and Harrison will need one more game to decide who advances to the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.

Both teams entered Wednesday's contest with offenses scoring tons of runs and that trend continued as Collins Hill took the first game 10-5 with Harrison bouncing back in Game 2 for a 9-6 win.

That split forced a deciding third game to be played today at 5 p.m. at Collins Hill.

"I thought both clubs played well tonight and took advantage of some breaks," Collins Hill head coach Paul Pierce said. "(Harrison) has a good club and does a lot of good things, but so do we. This series is two good teams like it's supposed to be and we're excited about tomorrow."

Collins Hill (23-7) wasted no time in the opener by jumping on Harrison starter Devin Rentz for five runs in the first inning, sending nine batters to the plate.

The inning might not have been so bad but a dropped fly ball by the Harrison centerfielder off the bat of Grant Earls allowed the inning to be extended.

The Eagles took advantage, getting RBIs from James Buckelew, Spencer Horridge, Conner Shovelski and Morgan Ownbey.

The hot hitting continued for Collins Hill in the second inning with three more runs, getting a two-run homer from Earls and an RBI double from Horridge, who finished 3-for-4 with three doubles, two RBIs and two runs.

The game looked like it was going to be an Eagle blowout, but Harrison slugged its way back in the third. Christian Turnipseed plated the first run with an RBI single, followed by an run-scoring double from Matt Gonzalez.

Adam Martin then hit the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence for a three-run homer, cutting the score to 8-5.

Harrison relievers Zack Bowers, Connor Hughes and Jason Celler did a nice job of slowing down the Eagle bats, keeping the Hoyas in striking distance by allowing just three runs, but the struggles Buckelew had in the third went away as the senior lefty didn't allow any more runs.

Buckelew was one out away from a complete game, going 6 2/3 innings with five runs on six hits with three strikeouts and two walks on 112 pitches.

Much like Collins Hill did in the opener, Harrison jumped to an early lead in Game 2, getting three runs in the first off starter Ownbey.

Ownbey struggled early, allowing the first five runners to reach (three by hit, two by walk), with the big blow a two-run single from Austin Neely.

However, the Hoya defense opened the door for the Eagles in the second when an infield error with two outs and nobody on in the second set the stage for five straight singles, plating four unearned runs and a 4-3 lead.

After his shaky first, Ownbey found his groove the next two innings by allowing no runs but was chased in the fourth after allowing two hits and a walk.

Roanld Jones was called in to pitch and retired the first hitter he faced but Matt Gonzalez answered with a three-run homer to center to put the Hoyas (22-8) up 7-5.

Collins Hill pulled to within a run at 7-6 in the top of the sixth off Buckelew's RBI double, but Gonzalez struck again in the bottom half, this time a two-run shot to left off Wayne Wages.

The nine-run outburst preserved the win for Turnipseed, who went six innings with six runs (five unearned) on 12 hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

"We feel fortunate to have another opportunity to play baseball," Harrison head coach Mark Elkins said. "We talked after the first game what we needed to do to force a game three. It's been a big-inning series to this point and we've got to figure out what to slow (Collins Hill) down."

Harrison also received a break after the game when it won the coin toss in deciding who will be the home team in the finale.