MARIETTA -- Mill Creek forced a third and decisive game at Lassiter today after splitting the first two games of their second-round Class AAAAA state playoff best-of-three series Thursday.
Lassiter won the first game 2-1 on two unearned runs, but Mill Creek stormed back to win the nightcap 9-2, forcing Game 3 for a chance to advance to the Class AAAAA state tournament in Columbus next weekend.
Lassiter got both of its runs in the opening game in the fifth inning and used a strong complete-game pitching performance from Mackensie Kayler to go up 1-0 in the series.
The first four innings of Game 1 was a pitcher's duel between Kayler and Mill Creek's Nikki Sagermann, with Sagermann keeping Lassiter hitless in that span.
The Trojans finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth inning. Erin Leonard led off the inning with a single, then stole second and was driven home on a single by Sammi Green, while Carlie Kayser also singled and then scored when Shelby Sinclair flied out.
Mill Creek came back with its only run of the game in the top of the sixth when Taylor Rogers reached first on a Lassiter error to lead off the inning, then later scored on a ground-out by Laura Bennett.
Lassiter jumped out to the early lead in the nightcap as Leonard singled to score Murphy Davis, who was the courtesy runner for Mackensie Kayler, in the top of the first inning.
But Mill Creek quickly erased when Anyssa Robles blasted a three-run home run over the center field fence to give the Hawks a 3-1 lead.
"(The home run) kind of allowed the kids to take a deep breath and that happens a lot, no matter what level, for somebody to get a big hit to make everybody relax," Mill Creek coach Roger Parham said. "So that was very helpful."
Lassiter cut Mill Creek's lead to 3-2 in the top of the third when Elise Sandberg singled to score Davis.
Mill Creek responded with two runs in the third on Morgan Bell's two-RBI single and three more runs in the fourth on an RBI double by Jenna Holland and a two-RBI double from Chandler Griffin.
The Hawks added one more run in the sixth when Bell singled to score Sagermann, who was 2-for-3 with a walk. The pitcher also picked up the Game 2 win, striking out three and allowing the two runs despite 10 hits.