Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Grayson's Taylor Allum (13) delivers a pitch against Roswell during game 3 of the first round of Class AAAAAA state baseball playoffs.
HOSCHTON -- The persistent rain from the past weekend put Grayson and Roswell in a holding pattern, so much so that the field at Grayson was still unplayable on Tuesday.
That prompted a scramble to find a suitable venue, with the two teams finally lining up at Mill Creek on Tuesday night for the third and deciding game of the opening round Class AAAAAA playoff series.
Although both coaches were relieved to finally get things underway, when it was all said and done, only one coach left the field with a good feeling.
Roswell, the No. 3 seed out of Region 5-AAAAAA, scored five runs in the first three innings and held off a late surge from Grayson for a 6-4 win, eliminating the Rams (19-10) from postseason play.
The win sends the Hornets (18-10) to the second round, where they will return to Father's Field on Thursday to face Region 7-AAAAAA champs Mill Creek.
"Having things pushed back along with the headache of trying to get our field ready and then having to make the arrangements to get up here was kind of distracting," Grayson head coach Jed Hixson said. "We got down but with the senior leadership and experience we have, I didn't expect that we wouldn't give up."
Grayson, which lost the coin toss on Friday to determine who would be home team, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first off a solo homer from Chris Erwin, but that lead was short-lived as the Hornets put a three-spot on the board in the bottom half.
The Rams started Jack Banda, and the righty put himself in an early jam by hitting one batter and walking two others. Those free passes came home to roost when Zach Hald ripped a three-run double with two outs to go up 3-1.
Banda got through the second inning without any problems but ran into more trouble in the third, giving up a two-run homer to Drew Davis, putting the Hornets in control at 5-1.
Coach Hixson lifted Banda one hitter after Davis' homer, bringing in Taylor Allum, who shut down the Hornets by setting down the next eight hitters he faced.
That gave Grayson's offense the chance it needed to get back in the game, and started chipping away by scoring one run in the top of the fourth off an RBI single from Banda.
The Rams caught a huge break in the fifth when Jeril Dawson sent a fly ball to left that looked like it was going to be an easy out, but the left fielder slipped on the damp grass just as the ball got to him, allowing Oscar Valdes and Casey Collins to score.
Dawson attempted to reach third on the throw to the plate, but was cut down for the first out of the inning. Grayson would eventually get runners at second and third with two out, but the big hit the Rams needed didn't come as reliever Connor Johnstone retired the side.
Grayson also put a runner in scoring position in the sixth, but again left it stranded, leaving the Rams with five runners stranded in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and six innings.
The Hornets pushed across an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when a fly ball to left off the bat Ryan Ritson was lost in the fading light, a play eerily similar to the one in the regular season finale against Parkview.
That insurance run wasn't needed, however, as Austin Meadows, who walked with two outs, was forced out at second on a fielder's choice from Allum to end the game.
Johnston finished with 2 innings of relief for the save, preserving the win for starter Devin Browning, who went 4 innings with four runs (three earned) on three hits, four walks and four strikeouts.
"The weather hasn't been real cooperative, and it's been a stressful time for both teams," Roswell head coach Mike Power said. "It was big for us to put up a crooked number in the first after they got the first run."
Allum was strong in relief for Grayson, striking out eight in four innings with one run on two hits with one walk. Grayson ended the night with just four total hits, while the Hornets managed six hits.