Staff Photo: John Bohn Norcross second baseman Andrew Lightle (3) reaches for a wide throw as Peachtree Ridge base runner Cooper Burdick steals second base during the first inning of Friday's game.
SUWANEE -- The second inning of Friday's important Region 7-AAAAAA baseball game between Peachtree Ridge and Norcross was a nightmare for both teams.
But after giving up six runs to the Blue Devils in the top of the inning, Tyler Haswell and the host Lions woke up quicker.
The senior right-hander not only hit a two-run home run to spark his team to a seven-run answer in the bottom of the inning, he then added four more solid innings on the mound to give Peachtree Ridge a chance to break the game open for a 13-7 win.
"That's the first time I can remember in two years that's happened to Tyler," Peachtree Ridge coach Ryan Hanik said. "He hasn't been in that spot giving up all those runs and having to work through it. So, we were thrilled to seem him do what he does and show composure to bulldog through the four innings after that."
Haswell's homer may have given the Lions (12-8, 6-2) the lead for good, but it may have been the poise he showed in preventing Norcross (11-8, 2-6) from doing further damage in what turned out to be a solid six-inning outing that was the key.
"I felt like after we started getting those runs back, ... everything kind of fell together," said Haswell (4-2), who gave up just one more hit after the Blue Devils' second-inning outburst before giving way to David Knudsen in the seventh. "I felt like I needed to go back out there and fight through it, and it worked out."
It didn't look like much would work out for Haswell or Peachtree Ridge after an error on Trevor Craport's hard-hit infield grounder gave a boost to the Norcross bats.
The Blue Devils wound up reaching Haswell for four hits, including an RBI double from Jess Ramsey, run-scoring singles from Joseph Wilber and Zach Shirah and a bases-clearing double from Jascanel Ferreras to take a 6-0 lead.
But as much as the error set the stage for five unearned runs in its half of the inning, even bigger defensive problems would plague Norcross in the bottom half.
The Blue Devils committed three errors and the Lions made them pay, with Steven Tomlinson driving in two runs with a double, Chad Pollitt and Cam Shepherd adding an RBI each with a double and single, respectively, and Cooper Burdick lifting a sacrifice fly to right to cut the Norcross lead to 6-5.
That brought Haswell to the plate, and the South Carolina-bound senior took an offering from Wilber (2-3) on the outer half of the plate to the opposite field for his first homer of the year, a two-run shot that gave Peachtree Ridge the lead at 7-6.
"I was just looking for something to square up and looking for a pitch to put in the gap," Haswell said. "Luckily, I got that pitch and it got up and out."
Wilber was able to get out of the inning with only two of the runs counting as earned, but the damage was done.
"We finally showed up offensively, and we shut it down on defense," Norcross coach Jonathan Wyman said. "(Peachtree Ridge) did a heck of a job in coming back. They did a really good job getting those runners on and then they got those big hits when they needed them with guys in scoring position."
That was all that Haswell needed, as the right-hander would wind up pitching six innings, giving up five hits and just the one earned run with five strikeouts.
But the Lions would give him plenty of cushion, scoring three runs in the third and three more in the fifth to put the game away.
Much of that support came from the lower third of the order, with Drew Wharton, Tomlinson and Pollitt combining to go 7-for-10 with six RBIs, six runs scored and a stolen base.
Tomlinson in particular had a huge game, finishing just a homer short of the cycle and driving in five runs, while Jonathan Hudson also had a pair of hits and two RBIs and Shepherd also drove in two runs.
Ferreras was the big bat for Norcross on the day by going 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs.