Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Mill Creek congratulates Tim Hernandez (12) after scoring a run against East Coweta during the second round of high school baseball Class AAAAA playoffs at Mill Creek High School on Wednesday. In game one, Mill Creek defeated East Coweta 5-3.
HOSCHTON -- Mill Creek didn't exactly power the ball all over Fathers Field during Thursday's second-round Class AAAAA state playoff doubleheader with East Coweta, with just two extra-base hits among 14 combined hits on the day.
But the No. 5 state-ranked Hawks made every one of those hits count, especially during a huge rally in each game.
First, Tyler Boldt's two-run double keyed a four-run fourth that pushed Mill Creek to a 5-3 win in the opener.
Then the Hawks cashed in on two walks, two hit batsmen and an error, plus three singles, to score seven times in the top of the first of Game 2, opening the door for a 10-1 victory that gave them a sweep and sent them into the state quarterfinals for the third straight season.
Cody Pugh and Shane Seckinger also gave quality starts on the mound as the Hawks (22-9) moved on to play host to either Walton or Camden County next Tuesday.
"Two crooked numbers in (each game) were huge," said Mill Creek coach Doug Jones. "The four spot -- that was enough to win Game 1. And obviously the seven spot was enough to win the second game. That was good. We got two good pitching performances and solid defense, too."
In the opener, Pugh (9-1) didn't have his best stuff early on, giving up three earned runs on five hits over the first three innings, including RBI hits by Jeremy Walton and Travis Williams, to fall behind East Coweta 3-1.
But the junior right-hander was buoyed by his offense opportunistic outburst in the bottom of the fourth.
Boldt provided a key hit during a decisive four-run rally by smacking a two-run double into the left-field corner to pull the Hawks even at 3-3.
A throwing error later in the inning put Mill Creek in front 4-3, and B.J. Harmon added some insurance by laying down an RBI bunt single to push the lead to 5-3.
And Pugh settled down and allowed just one hit over the last four and went the distance, giving up just six hits total with five strikeouts.
He also got some help from his defense as Logan Moseley, Dillon Kokinos and Nick Tillman turned a 6-4-3 double play in the fourth, while Boldt picked off an East Coweta baserunner straying too far off third base to end the sixth.
"He's ultra competitive," Jones said of Pugh. "He enjoys the situation. He enjoys being out there. Once we got the lead for him, he smelled it a little bit and he was really bearing down."
The Hawks smelled blood as the nightcap opened with Bryan Hudson drawing a leadoff walk, Harmon being hit by a pitch and Tillman drawing another walk to load the bases with nobody out.
Moseley then sent a fly ball deep enough to be a sacrifice fly that turned into a two-base error that scored an extra run and gave Mill Creek a 2-0 lead.
Tim Hernandez and Tad Newman then followed with RBI singles, Kokinos chipped in a sacrifice fly to right and Ben Crowder added another RBI single.
When it was over, the Hawks had sent 11 batters to the plate, with seven touching home for an early 7-0 lead that put the visiting Indians (16-14) in a big hole.
And Seckinger (8-1) made sure they would never get out of it, giving up just three hits and one earned run and striking out nine over six innings before Andrew Hostetter pitched a scoreless seventh to close out the Mill Creek sweep.
"I thought we came ready to play," East Coweta coach Franklin DeLoach said. "In Game 1, we had our chances. ... We were able to get the lead semi-early. ... All of the sudden, the fourth inning was the death of us. We gave up the big innings (in both games). That broke out back."
Boldt finished the afternoon 2-for-3 with the two RBIs, while Kokinos was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Newman was 3-for-7 with an RBI.
Hernandez also had two hits and an RBI on the day, while Bryan Hudnson had a two-run double in Game 2.