0

Shiloh forces Game 3 with Mill Creek

HOSCHTON -- Shiloh hasn't competed in the state baseball playoffs since 1999, but the lack of playoff experience for the Generals didn't show on Friday night.

Facing Region 7-AAAAA champion Mill Creek in the opening round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs, the Generals shook off a 5-2 loss in Game 1 by bouncing back with a 1-0 win in Game 2.

The split forced a decisive Game 3 to be played today at 4 p.m. at Mill Creek. The winner will advance to face the Lowndes-East Coweta winner in the second round.

"Momentum is huge in athletics, no matter what sport it is, and (Shiloh) has it right now, and rightfully so," Mill Creek head coach Doug Jones said. "We'll just have to go from here and see what happens. It ought to be exciting."

After dropping the opener 5-2, Shiloh (17-11) turned to lefty JaMarkus George, who had been out since early in the season with tendinitis.

George showed no signs of rust from his injury as he pitched a gem, delivering a complete-game shutout with just three hits, while striking out four and walking three. George finished the evening with eight scoreless innings as he threw one perfect inning of relief in Game 1.

"We were just glad to get him back because he's been injured since the second week of the season," Shiloh head coach Reggie Ingram said. "He kept his pitch count down and was cruising. He never got in any trouble and he said he felt good so we let him ride. He set the tone for the game."

Mill Creek countered with righty Shane Seckinger, who gave six strong innings with six strikeouts, three walks and three hits with one run. But that one run would prove to be enough.

"Shane did a great job for us, but you've got to give their guy credit," Jones said. "We just didn't get the hits we needed when he had the opporunity."

The big difference in the game came in the bottom of the sixth when Shiloh made the most of its hits. Marcus McCorkle led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Gilberto Lopez.

Shortstop Cletis Avery came to the plate and picked up Shiloh's second hit of the night when he doubled down the left-field line, getting a liner just past a diving Tim Hernandez at third.

Avery's double plated McCorkle, giving Shiloh a 1-0 lead.

Shiloh had a chance to tack on another run when Kyle Lewis followed Avery with a single to left center, but McCorkle over ran third base on the throw to home and was gunned down by catcher Tyler Boldt when he tried to dive back into third.

The failure to plate an insurance run didn't hurt Shiloh as Mill Creek went down in order in the seventh, with George setting down the Hawks in order to cap off the 1-0 win.

"It's been a long time since (Shiloh) has been in the playoffs," Ingram said. "We beat ourselves up in the first game but put everything together in the second one."

Shiloh also got off to a strong start in Game 1 by plating two runs in the top of the first, getting one run on an RBI groundout by Kyle Lewis and plating another on an infield error.

With a little bit of cushion to work with, Shiloh starter Josh Nance kept the Hawks off the scoreboard until the bottom of the third when Nick Tillman homered to left to tie the score up at 2-2.

The momentum Mill Creek (19-9) grabbed from Tillman's homer in the third carried over into the fourth when the Hawks put three more on the board.

After Nance retired the first two hitters of the inning, Mill Creek picked up back-to-back singles from Boldt and Cody Pugh to put runners at first and second, while loading the bases when Bryan Hudson followed with a walk.

Brandon Harmon then singled to left on a 2-2 pitch, driving home a pair of runs for a 4-2 lead, while Tillman drove in his third run of the game with a single to left for a 5-2 edge.

Those five runs would be more than enough for Mill Creek starter Pugh, who would go the distance, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts. Pugh ran his record to 8-1.

"That's as good as he's thrown in a long time," Jones said of Pugh. "I was real tickled to death with him."

Tillman finished Game 1 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Harmon went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, one run and one stolen base, while Shiloh's McCorkle finished 2-for-3 with a run and two stolen bases.

Nance (5-5) would go five innings before being lifted after 110 pitches. He finished with five earned runs on eight hits with three strikeouts, two walks and one hit batter.