Eagles come up short

SUWANEE -- After winning Game 1 of its second-round playoff series Wednesday against Harrison, Collins Hill needed just one more win to advance to the quarterfinals.

But a win in Game 2 by the Hoyas forced a deciding Game 3 on Thursday and Harrison made the most of it by posting a 7-4 win to end the Eagles' season.

The 2-1 series win puts the Hoyas on the road next week in the quarterfinals against the Valdosta-Camden County winner while the Region 7-AAAAA champs saw its season conclude at 23-8.

"I was hoping to score a few runs early and we got four in an inning, but that's all we pushed across," Collins Hill head coach Paul Pierce said. "I was proud of our kids battling but unfortunately we didn't come out on the good side."

Collins Hill had a chance to score in the first inning but had it slammed shut when the Eagles had a runner thrown out at home by right fielder Christian Turnipseed after a single by James Buckelew.

Turnipseed then hurt the Eagles with his bat in the bottom of the first when he homered to left center for a 1-0 advantage, but that lead didn't last long.

Spencer Horridge of Collins Hill tied things at 1-1 when he led off the second inning with a solo shot to left. Conner Shovelski then reached on an error, helping set the table for the Eagle offense.

Three more Eagles would touch home, getting an RBI single from Chris McGowan, an RBI double from Garitt Church and an RBI on a fielder's choice from Grant Earls to put the Eagles up 4-1.

With Harrison starter John Skubina on the ropes, the Eagles were in position to open the game up but the right-hander settled down, keeping the Eagles hitless until the seventh inning.

"This was the biggest game (Skubina) has ever pitched in and our team really needed him," Harrison head coach Mark Elkins said. "He gave up some runs early but settled down and kept a great-hitting lineup off balance. He threw his curve for strikes and was able to spot his fastball."

That scoreless stretch allowed the Hoyas (23-8) to chip its way back off starter Trey Marksberry, getting one run in the bottom of the second and tying it at 4-4 with two more in the third.

"They just kept scratching and clawing," Pierce said. "I thought their guy pitched backwards but he hit his spots and threw well."

Cameron Starling was called in relief of Marksberry and threw a scoreless fourth before running into trouble in the fifth.

Starling retired the first batter in the fifth but Adam Martin ripped a single to center that missed Starling's cheek by inches, starting a three-run rally for Harrison.

Those runs came on an RBI single from, a sacrifice fly from Preston Neely, while getting the third on a pass ball.

The Eagles made its first attempt at a comeback in the sixth but saw it come to an end by sheer bad luck. Morgan Ownbey reached base after getting hit by a pitch but was erased when A.J. Farris' line drive that was headed to right field struck Ownbey squarely in the knee.

McGowan, who finished 3-for-4, led off the seventh with an infield single but was erased when Church hit into a double play.

With one out to go, Skubina's bid at a complete game was foiled when Earls singled and Starling walked.

Skubina (62/3 innings, four runs, nine hits, six strikeouts, two walks) was lifted for Connor Hughes, who coaxed Buckelew to hit a sharp grounder to the shortstop for a fielder's choice at second to end the game.

"Our kids came to play everyday," Pierce said. "We had a great group of young men that stepped up and matured as leaders. They did a wonderful job of coming with the right attitude and making sure everyone else had the right attitude. They worked hard to get things done."