Photo: David McGregor Peachtree Ridge's Jonathan Hudson throws a pitch during the 3rd inning of the Lions 5-1 victory over West Forsyth in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state tournament on Monday.
SUWANEE -- With more rain bearing down on metro Atlanta after delaying Game 3 of its first-round Class AAAAAA playoff series with West Forsyth, Peachtree Ridge knew it had no time to lose.
And the Lions and Jonathan Hudson wasted no time in jumping out in front before holding on for a 5-1 win Monday night at home.
Hudson (5-2) threw 6 innings, giving up just three hits and one earned run with seven strikeouts, and added three hits at the plate to help Peachtree Ridge (19-10) claim the first series victory in program history. It moves on to the second round to face Parkview beginning Wednesday.
"That's the best he's thrown all year," Lions coach Ryan Hanik said of Hudson. "I can't be more proud of a kid. To come out in a pressure Game 3 trying to get us over the hump, he came and did it."
But Hudson had some early help, both at the plate and in the field behind him.
Though losing the coin flip to be designated visiting team, the Lions struck quickly for three runs in the top of the first on RBI singles from Tyler Haswell, Anthony Perez and Drew Wharton to take a 3-0 lead.
The Peachtree Ridge defense helped Hudson keep that lead after giving up lead-off singles in the first two innings.
First, Cooper Burdick ran down Alex DeCubellis' liner to right, and threw behind Alec Wilson, who was off with the pitch on a hit-and-run play, to double him up and clear the bases.
An inning later, Chris Cullen led off the West Forsyth (16-12) inning with a single, only to be erased when Hudson induced Brett Anderson in to a 6-4-3 double play before striking out Sam Sutko to end the inning.
"I just went out there and hit my spots and tried not to think that much," Hudson said. "I had great defense and a lot of run support. It's a lot easier to just go out and throw when you've got horses back there hitting for you. And I knew if I just threw it in there, I had a good defense back there."
From that point, the senior right-hander dominated, retiring the next 15 Wolverines hitters, including all seven of his strikeouts and six of his nine groundball outs on the evening.
Peachtree Ridge then tacked on a pair of insurance runs on Cameron Shepherd's bases-loaded walk and Burdick's sacrifice fly in the fourth, and the Lions looked in total command with a 5-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.
But even with Hudson cruising, having thrown just 58 pitches through the first six innings, he ran into trouble when Wilson blooped a single just over the glove of a running Shepherd at short to lead off the seventh.
And more trouble brewed when DeCubellis and Cullen drew walks around Hudson's strikeout of Jacob Hill to load the bases with just one out, which prompted Hanik to call on Game 1 starter, and winner, Haswell to try and shut the door.
The senior right-hander did so, striking out Anderson and pitching around Sutko's 0-2, RBI single to fan Hunter Belue representing the tying run at the plate to earn his fourth save of the season, and give the Lions an historic trip to the second round to meet the two-time defending state champion from the state's largest classification.
"What I like is, they don't seem satisfied with that," Hanik said. "None of our players had a goal of (just) winning a series, but we had to win this series to reach the goals they had. Now, we get to go and see the king of the jungle (Parkview). I'm excited for the opportunity. Now it's up to us to just play our game."
Wharton joined Hudson with three hits at the plate for Peachtree Ridge, while Wilson led West Forsyth's offense by going 2-for-3.