Felt, Hillyer propel Hebron to playoff win

DACULA -- When Mason Felt gave up a solo home run on Friday, Hebron baseball coach Heath Kennedy turned to his dugout and said the game was over.

"It was a mistake pitch, but I knew he wouldn't let it happen again," Kennedy said.

Kennedy was right. Felt struck out the next three batters to help Hebron to a sweep of Glascock County in the first round of the Class A playoffs.

The defending state champions won the first game 9-0 behind the three-hitter of Jordan Hillyer and then Felt struck out 13 in second game of the 14-1 five-inning win.

"They're arguably two of the best pitchers in the state," Kennedy said. "They set the tone for the whole team. When they are up, we're up."

The win puts Hebron (26-2) in the second round of the state tournament where it will face the Darlington/Fellowship Christian winner on Wednesday.

Hebron lost to Darlington 7-6 in the second game of the season. They are the only Georgia team to beat the Lions in the last 35 games dating back to last year.

"We know it gets tougher and tougher every round," Kennedy said.

Nearly a dozen MLB scouts were on hand to watch Hillyer and Felt during Friday's game. The duo didn't disappoint. Hillyer pitched a three-hit shutout in Game 1 to improve to 8-0.

"It's good to get momentum (for the playoffs)," Hillyer said. "We all think we can win again. I think this showed it."

Felt improved to 9-0 by striking out 13 to give him 116 strikeouts on the year in 60 innings pitched.

"They are two special kids," Kennedy said.

Hillyer got the win on the mound in Game 1. The right-hander went all seven innings, allowing three hits and one walk and struck out six.

Hillyer allowed a walk to start the third inning and a pair of hits in the fourth. He responded by striking out the next two he faced in the third and two of the three in the fourth.

"That made me mad and I pitch better when I'm mad," Hillyer said.

Brady Shoppe led off the second with a double and two batters later Nathan Holt drove in the run for the early lead.

Hebron added three in the third when Drew Coker (three walks) reached on an error and Hillyer (3-for-4, two RBIs) had a hit. P.J. Westbury and Shoppe followed with sacrifice flies to centerfield to make it 4-0. Lew Stephens was hit by a pitch and Benji Cash (2-for-4, 3 RBIs) followed with a double to drive in another run.

Tyler Hutch started the fourth with a single and Coker walked. Hillyer drove in both runs with a double for the 6-0 lead.

The Lions tacked on the final three runs in the sixth with Hillyer doubling, Westbury reaching on an error and Shoppe walking to load the bases. Stephens drew a walk to bring in a run and Cash singled to drive two more runs for the 9-0 lead.

"(Glascock) actually hit the ball well," Kennedy said. "In the first game vs. Hillyer, they just ran out of gas. They are real good competitors."

Hutch and Hillyer singled and scored runs in the first inning of Game 2. Benji Cash and Nathan Holt walked to start the second and Hutch reached on an error to load the bases with two outs. Coker reached on a throwing error to first, bringing home all three base runners for a 5-1 lead.

Glascock's lone run of the series came when Tyler Wiley hit a change-up off Felts to left field.

"I wasn't too happy about that," said Felts of the second homer he's allowed this season.

The senior loaded the bases in the third with two outs, but got out of the inning with a strikeout. Felts faced 19 batters all game and 13 of the 15 outs were by strikeout.

"I try not to let anything get to me," Felts said.

P.J. Westbury (2-for-3) hit a solo homer in the third and Stephens drove in Shoppe to take a 7-0 lead.

Hebron put the game away with a four-run fourth inning. Hutch reached on a fielder's choice, Hillyer (2-for-3) doubled to drive in a run, Westbury walked and Shoppe hit a triple down the left field line to bring in two more runs. Shoppe scored the 11th run on a passed ball.

Cash singled in the fifth, pinch hitter Matthew Glisson was hit by a pitch and Hutch had an RBI single. The 13-run lead enforced the mercy rule after the fifth inning.

"We were able to run today and that was huge," Kennedy said. "The pitchers threw well for us, too."