Staff Photo: John Bohn Hebron catcher Brady Shoppe puts on his mask while playing Darlington in a second round Class A game Wednesday under wet conditions.
DACULA -- Riding one of the state's best pitching duos, top-ranked Hebron Christian Academy swept Darlington 9-1 and 6-0 in the second round of the Class A state baseball playoffs Wednesday.
Right-hander Jordan Hillyer gave up just one unearned run in the first inning and finished with a complete-game three-hitter to lead Hebron to the 9-1 win in Game 1.
Left-hander Mason Felt followed up with a complete-game two-hit shutout in Game 2 as the Lions completed the sweep with a 6-0 victory to advance to next week's quarterfinals.
Hebron (28-2) will be at Lion Field/Cole Complex where the Lions will face Providence on Tuesday in a rematch of last year's state championship series.
Darlington, ranked No. 5 in the state, finishes its season at 24-6.
Last year, Hebron also swept Darlington in the quarterfinal round by scores of 10-8 and 12-2.
This time, Hebron had the stellar pitching to go along with the hot bats.
"Overall, I thought it was a good team effort today and I think we're peaking at the right time," said Hebron head coach Heath Kennedy. "We're starting to click a little bit and that's good when you get to this time of the year. We've had the pitching, but our bats have been pretty hot, too."
In the opener, Hillyer (9-0) and the Lions found themselves in an early 1-0 hole after the top of the first inning.
Brad Butler reached on an error and eventually scored on a Burton Dulaney double to right field before Hebron had recorded an out.
But Hillyer minimized the damage and recorded a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to retire the Tigers and keep the deficit at one run.
Hebron immediately went to work and regained the lead with two runs in the bottom of the first.
Infield singles by Drew Coker and P.J.Westbury (3-for-4) put runners at first and third with one out.
Coker came home on a throwing error as Westbury stole second to tie the game at 1-1.
Westbury scored on another Darlington error as Brady Shoppe reached to make it 2-1.
From that point on, Hebron would never trail as the Lions scored in every inning except the second.
Hillyer helped his cause with a groundout that scored Tyler Hutch (2-for-4, two runs, two RBIs) to increase the lead to 3-1 in the third.
Then Hebron added two runs each in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings en route to the eight-run win.
Sid Turner's single scored Lew Stephens and Benji Cash (2-for-3, RBI) to up the lead to 5-1 in the fourth.
Shoppe singled home Hillyer and pinch runner Peyton Coker scored on Cash's double in the fifth to increase the advantage to 7-1.
Hutch's two-run homer in the sixth also scored Turner (2-for-3, run, two RBI) and that pushed the final margin to 9-1.
Meanwhile, Hillyer was dealing as the Kennesaw State signee allowed just two doubles and a single while striking out 13 and walking one.
In Game 2, Hebron scored five runs in the first three innings and that was more than enough for Felt to seal the deal for the Lions.
In the first, Hillyer scored on Westbury's double for a 1-0 lead.
Cash (3-for-4, run, RBI) doubled home Stephens. Then Hutch, a Gordon college signee, came up two batters later and launched his second two-run homer of the day to run the lead out to 4-0 after two frames.
Westbury (3-for-4, run, RBI) came home on another Darlington error in the third to make it 5-0.
Hebron's final run came in the sixth when Coker (2-for-4, run) crossed the plate on a single by Hillyer (2-for-4, run, RBI).
As in Game 1, the Hebron starting pitching was solid as Felt took a no-hitter into the fifth inning when David Grindstaff singled sharply to left field with two outs.
Even though Felt went the distance and struck out eight in the two-hit performance, the Oregon State signee did walk five and hit a batter in the contest.
But the senior was able to pitch out of jams in the first, fourth and sixth innings when Darlington had two runners on base each time.
That's why Hebron has a great shot at repeating as state champions again in 2012.
"Our guys (Hillyer and Felt) do set the tone for us," said Kennedy. "And we played some pretty good defense after the first inning in the first game. But I thought we swung the bats well today and especially after (Darlington) jumped on us first. Jordan was really good today and I thought Mason battled when he probably didn't have his best stuff."