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Seckinger, big bats help Mill Creek rally for split with Alpharetta

Staff Photo: John Bohn Mill Creek first baseman Andrew Wise (26) comes very close to catching a foul ball during the third inning against  Alpharetta in a first round Class AAAAAA state playoff game on Friday. This was in the first  game of a doubleheader.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Mill Creek first baseman Andrew Wise (26) comes very close to catching a foul ball during the third inning against Alpharetta in a first round Class AAAAAA state playoff game on Friday. This was in the first game of a doubleheader.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Mill Creek second baseman Jacob Freeland (5) prepares to throw to first base after fielding a ball hit by Alpharetta's Lex Carpenter (14) during a first round Class AAAAAA state playoff game on Friday. Carpenter was safe at first base.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Mill Creek's Brandon Harmon (9) is congratulated by teammates including Tripp Adams (3) after Harmon scored a run during the bottom of the third inning against Alpharetta. This was during the first of two scheduled first round Class AAAAAA state playoff games at Mill Creek on Friday.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Mill Creek's Brandon Harmon (9) steals third base as Alpharetta's thrid baseman Josh Dobbs (11) takes the throw during the third inning of a first round Class AAAAAA state playoff game on Friday. This was the first of two games scheduled to be played at Mill Creek.

HOSCHTON -- Faced with a do or die situation in Game 2 of its first-round Class AAAAAA state playoff doubleheader with Alpharetta, Mill Creek did what it had to do to live another day.

The Hawks pounded out 14 hits -- eight of them doubles -- to back a strong outing from Shane Seckinger to even their best-of-three series with an 8-1 win Friday at Fathers Field.

Earlier in the day, Alpharetta's Bryce Conley outdueled Cody Pugh as the Raiders held on for a 2-1 win.

The two teams are scheduled to play a deciding third game today at 3 p.m., weather permitting.

"We came out there and decided we're not ready to call it an end to the season," said Hawks second baseman Jacob Freeland, who finished the day 3-for-6, including two hits and two RBIs in Game 2. "This a chance to win it right here. ... We have some fight left in us."

After dropping Game 1, it looked like the Hawks (20-8) might continue to stumble early in the nightcap.

An error on what should've been an inning-ending strikeout in the bottom of the second allowed Alpharetta (15-13) to tie the game 1-1.

An inning later, Mill Creek took a 2-1 lead and looked primed for more, when the Raiders (15-13) turned in a big defensive play to stay in the game.

Tyler Agard and Kyle Dasch turned the pivot on a grounder to short to get two outs, and then Conley fired home to get courtesy runner Will Zimmer, who had slipped on the wet turf on his way home, for a triple play.

But the Hawks rebounded with a huge rally against Alpharetta starter Josh Dobbs (3-2) in the top of the fourth, keyed by RBI singles from Jacob Freeland and Tyler Boldt and a run-scoring double from Bryan Hudson.

Before the inning had ended, Mill Creek sent eight men to the plate, with four touching the plate, to extend its lead to 6-1.

"They rallied (in Game 2). They had to. They didn't have a choice," Mill Creek coach Doug Jones said of his team. "We swung it better. We had a lot of extra base hits. That's not really who we are, but it's nice to have it happen when it did. We needed it."

That was plenty of support for Seckinger (6-2), who shut down the Raiders on just three hits and the one unearned run with eight strikeouts over 5 innings before giving way to the bullpen.

Pugh (8-1) pitched well enough to win the opener, going the distance and scattering eight hits and just one earned run with three strikeouts.

But Evan Trout's two-out RBI single in the fourth -- his second hit of the game -- put Alpharetta in front 2-1, and Conley (7-3) was able to stifle the Mill Creek bats the rest of the way despite taking Bryan Hudson's infield single off his foot in the third.

The senior right-hander gave up just six hits and an earned run and fanned 11, with the only run coming on Logan Moseley's RBI ground-out that briefly tied the game in the third.

The Hawks also ran themselves out of potential innings, with baserunners being cut down at third base with less than two outs in the fourth and fifth.

"It was disappointing in Game 1 when you get a pitching performance like that (from Pugh) ," Jones said. "You don't need to waste it, but you have to give (Conley) credit, as well."

Hudson had a big day overall by going 5-for-6 with two doubles and an RBI for the doubleheader, while Boldt finished the nightcap 2-for-3 with double and two RBIs.

Walker Boyd also had a strong Game 2 with a pair of doubles and a walk.

Trout and Dobbs finished the opener with two hits apiece for Alpharetta.