Photo: Brian Kamer Brookwood's Jordan Dykes (6) dives back to first to avoid being tagged out by North Gwinnett's Michael Haynes (13) during Brookwood's 8-1 victory over the North Gwinnett during Saturday's game at Brookwood.
SNELLVILLE -- After a pair of one-run games in the first-round series of the Class AAAAA state baseball playoffs between Brookwood and North Gwinnett, Game 3 was decided early as the Broncos rolled to an 8-1 win over the Bulldogs.
With the win, Brookwood (19-8) moves on to the second round at Colquitt County on Wednesday in another best-of-three series.
Riding the stout pitching of senior left-hander Ryan Woodard and a pair of four-run innings early in the contest, Brookwood built a commanding lead and was never challenged in the seven-run victory.
"I'm proud of the way this team has battled, especially in the last half of the year." Brookwood head coach Rick Howard said. "And that's what we talked about coming into this game today. I'm extremely proud of them and we didn't let the loss last night get us down. We had another opportunity today and we took advantage of it. It was an opportunity to get to the second round and to do whatever it takes to get there."
Woodward was in complete control throughout the game and held North scoreless until an unearned run crossed with two outs in the top of the seventh.
Woodard threw 100 pitches in the game with 61 of those finding the strike zone, while limiting North to three hits.
He also struck out five and walked just two while taking a no-hitter into the fourth inning. That's when Ryan Hagan singled to left for the first North hit.
Woodard also set down North in order in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings.
"It was an outstanding performance today (by Woodard)," Howard said. "It tells you how far he's come as a pitcher. He's always going to go out and do a good job. But to be that effective and throwing as few pitches as he did, it was an awesome job and he kept (North) off-balance."
Besides the seventh-inning run Woodard allowed, his biggest challenge came in the top of the first to start the game.
After two outs, Ryan Hagan and Alex Kimble reached on walks.
But Woodard struck out Michael Haynes to stop the North threat.
From there, the Brookwood offense took over as the Broncos sent seven to the plate in the four-run inning.
Cedric Mullins led off with a single and stole second.
Jordan Dykes (3-for-4, two runs) reached on a bunt single to move Mullins to third.
After Dykes stole second, Michael Gouge (2-for-3, two RBIs, two runs) doubled off the wall in center field to chase home Mullins and Dykes for a 2-0 Brookwood lead.
Woodard flied out to left, but Lucas Sims doubled to left-center to bring Gouge home to make it 3-0.
That knocked North starter Danny Parry from the game and Riley Space came on to pitch.
A wild pitch by Space scored Sims to push the Brookwood advantage to 4-0
Brookwood came back in the third to get its final four runs and all but put the game out of reach.
Back-to-back singles by Dykes and Gouge started things up, and Woodard helped himself with a single to left-center that scored Dykes and moved Gouge to second.
Brock Baughcum ran for Woodard and he and Gouge moved up 90 feet on another wild pitch.
That set the stage for Sims (2-for-3, two runs, three RBIs), who doubled in Gouge and Baughcum to extend the Brookwood lead to 7-0.
North once again went to the bullpen and brought in Jordan Brown, who allowed a Garrett Reynolds' single to right that scored Sims to make it 8-0.
But Brown settled in and struck out Tre Lawrence and Mullins to keep the margin at eight.
In fact, Brown pitched four innings in relief and shut down the Broncos' offense the rest of the way.
But Woodard would only allow the seventh-inning run as Haynes, who had reached on a fielder's choice, scored on an error with two outs.
"That was a good one today," said Woodard, who also picked up his first complete game of the season. "My teammates gave me a lot of run support early. My change-up was a big pitch today and I had to stay focused after we got the big lead. But we got it done and move on to the next round."
North ends its season at 17-12 despite being one win away from advancing into the second round of the state tournament.
We were a little bit behind the eight ball this weekend with our pitching depth," North head coach Frank Vashaw said. "And we knew we were limited with what Jordan Brown could do. But give a lot of credit to Woodard, because he was good. We had a chance in both games last night and could only get one of them.
"And this speech at the end of the season never gets easy. You have this group of seniors and it's never easy to wrap up a season. But give Rick's team credit because they got it down today."