1

Mill Creek shuts down Camden Co. to earn first semifinal berth

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Mill Creek Cody Pugh (17) delivers a pitch to a Camden County batter during the quarterfinals of Class AAAAA baseball playoffs at Mill Creek High School on Tuesday.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Mill Creek Cody Pugh (17) delivers a pitch to a Camden County batter during the quarterfinals of Class AAAAA baseball playoffs at Mill Creek High School on Tuesday.

photo

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Mill Creek junior Ryan Bennett plays the tune "In the Jungle" with his mini trumpet during the Mill Creek VS Camden County quarterfinals of Class AAAAA baseball playoff game at Mill Creek High School on Tuesday.

photo

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Mill Creek Tripp Adams (3) welcomes his teammate Logan Moseley (5) into the dugout after scoring a run against Camden County during the quarterfinals of Class AAAAA baseball playoffs at Mill Creek High School on Tuesday.

photo

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Mill Creek Ben Crowder (6) waits for the ball in a pick off attempt at second base against Camden County Cole Bruce (4) during the quarterfinals of Class AAAAA baseball playoffs at Mill Creek High School on Tuesday.

photo

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Mill Creek Tripp Adams (3) scores a run and is welcomed at home plate by teammate Bryan Hudson (25) against Camden County during the quarterfinals of Class AAAAA baseball playoffs at Mill Creek High School on Tuesday.

HOSCHTON -- Mill Creek had made the quarterfinals in each of the last two seasons, only to see its playoff run end each time.

Tuesday night, however, was a different story.

Taking advantage of two key errors in Game 1, while getting stellar pitching performances in both games, the Hawks put together two shutout wins over Camden County in the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals to reach the semfinals for the first time in school history.

"We've lost in the third round the last two years, and that stung," Mill Creek head coach Doug Jones said. "I told the guys that we'd put some dents in the door, but now we've knocked it down. We're still a fairly young school and we're trying to build some tradition here."

Mill Creek (24-9) took the first game 7-0, getting a complete game performance from Cody Pugh (10-1), who allowed just two hits with eight strikeouts and one walk.

It would be difficult to imagine a stronger pitching performance in Game 2, but Shane Seckinger of Mill Creek delivered, carrying a no-hitter in the seventh inning as the Hawks held on for a 1-0 win.

Seckinger, who finished with 12 strikeouts and one walk, faced just three hitters over the minimum.

"Cody and Shane have been solid all year," Jones said. "Anytime you throw up two goose eggs, you stand a pretty good chance of winning."

Mill Creek took advantage of two big errors by the Camden defense in Game 1 as five of the seven runs were unearned.

Three of those runs came in the first inning when the Hawks had the bases loaded with two outs. Starter Tristan Jones looked like he was going to get out of the jam when Tad Newman rolled one to Logan Page at third, but his throw to second on an attempted force out went flying into right field, allowing Nick Tillman and Logan Moseley to score.

Dillon Kokinos followed with a single to drive in Tim Hernandez, giving the Hawks an early 3-0 lead.

Kokinos would also strike again in the third, singling to left with two outs to plate Moseley. Kokinos finished the first game 2-for-3 with two RBIs, while Moseley went 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs.

"I've been real proud of Dillon," Jones said. "Before now, he hadn't had a chance to play much, but he's worked real hard and done well, especially since moving to a new position (from third baseman to second baseman).

The Hawks put three more on the board in the fourth, again taking advantage of an error on a wide throw to first on a sacrifice bunt attempt from Pugh that allowed pinch runner Tripp Adams to score.

Bryan Hudson tripled down the right field line for an RBI, while Brandon Harmon delivered an RBI single. Hudson finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run, while Harmon was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base.

Jones was charged with the loss in an effort where he received little support on offense and defense, finishing with seven runs (two earned) on eight hits with one strikeout and one walk.

Mill Creek faced George Mason signee Tanner Love in Game 2 and literally stole the nightcap with a win, getting its lone run in the top of the second in a most unusual fashion.

Tim Hernandez singled with one out and reached second when Newman singled. Kokinos then flied out to right for the second out, allowing Hernandez to tag and reach third.

Newman would then attempt to swipe second. Camden catcher Wyatt Holloway made a throw down, allowing Hernandez to break for home. Newman made it in safely, and by the time the throw came back into home, Hernandez had already slid across the plate.

Mill Creek had several opportunities to tack on some insurance, but left at least one runner stranded in scoring position in four innings. The third inning was particularly frustrating as the Hawks had the bases loaded with no outs, only to see Love get out of the jam with no runs allowed.

"We had some opportunities in the second game, and we scored our only run without getting a hit," Jones said. "That was disappointing but Seckinger answered the bell."

Seckinger (10-1) allowed just one runner in the first five innings, a hit batsman in the first, but he was erased on a caught stealing by catcher Boldt.

Facing the minimum until the sixth, Seckinger allowed another base runner on an infield error, but retired the side without any serious Camden threat.

Camden did put together a threat in the bottom of the seventh when Cole Bruce led off with an infield single on a ball that caromed off Seckinger's glove.

In his haste to record the out, Seckinger threw the ball away, allowing Bruce to reach second with no one out, prompting a visit from Jones.

"I told him to relax and said that we needed to get an out," Jones said. "It was critical at that point to do that and I wanted him to know I had confidence in him."

That visit paid off as Seckinger struck out the next hitter. However, he allowed his third base runner of the night with a walk to Holloway, but recorded the next two outs, getting one from a fielder's choice and striking out Love to end the game.

Love put together a strong performance in taking the loss in Game 2, going six innings with one run on six hits with five strikeouts and two walks.

Mill Creek will have to wait to see who its opponent will be in next Monday's semifinals. The Hawks will be on the road to the winner of the Parkview-Hillgrove series, which will be decided to at x p.m. at Parkview in a Game 3.