HOSCHTON -- In a Class AAAAAA state baseball second-round series that pitted two evenly-matched teams in Mill Creek and Roswell, the outcome boiled down to which team could strike for the big inning.
That team turned out to be Roswell in the deciding Game 3 of this best-of-three series as the Hornets stung Mill Creek for a nine-run fifth inning en route to an 11-6 win.
With the victory, Roswell (20-11) advances to the quarterfinals next week and will take on Lowndes.
Roswell won Game 1 on Thursday night by scoring five times in the fourth inning and hung on for a 7-6 win.
Mill Creek came right back in Game 2 with a big inning of its own by plating five runs in the first and cruised home with the 8-0 decision.
But in the winner-take-all Game 3 Friday night at Fathers Field, the big uprising belonged to Roswell.
Mill Creek had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on Bryan Hudson's RBI groundout.
The Hawks put two more runs on the board in the third to increase the advantage to 3-0 when Hudson picked up his second RBI on another groundout and Will Zimmer came up with an RBI single.
Meanwhile, Mill Creek starter Jesse Thomas was cruising right along as Roswell managed just three base runners in the first four innings.
But it all went bad for Mill Creek in the fifth as Roswell sent 13 batters to the plate and scored nine times to turn a three-run deficit into a six-run lead.
Roswell had five hits in the inning, but the Hornets took advantage of three walks, a hit batsman and a couple of miscues by the Mill Creek defense to completely change the tone of the game.
Run-scoring singles by Drew Davis, Syd Hopkins and Ryan Ritson proved to be the key blows as Mill Creek went through four pitchers in the inning.
"The wheels just fell off (in that fifth inning)," said Mill Creek head coach Doug Jones. "I felt good and wouldn't say Jesse (Thomas) was cruising, but he was making good pitches and we were playing good defense behind. But then we got in trouble and tried to have some damage control, but nine is an awfully crooked number and we just couldn't overcome it."
Roswell added a pair of runs in the sixth to extend the lead to 11-3 as Hopkins added a sacrifice fly and Alex Dickerson had a run-producing single.
But Mill Creek did have one last rally in its bats as the Hawks scored three times in the bottom of the seventh to cut the margin to five.
Hudson picked up his third RBI with a single, Tyler Boldt came through with an RBI single and Tripp Adams drew a bases-loaded walk to force in a run to make 11-6.
In fact, Mill Creek had the tying run on deck as the Hawks reloaded the bases with one out.
But a strikeout and groundout ended the threat and Mill Creek's season at 22-10.
"Roswell is a tough team and they just battle you," said Jones. "That is a typical Mike Power-coached team and they deserve a lot of credit. Those were two good teams out there. But we were down six even though we had out hit them. So I just kept telling the guys to keep after it and we were close at the end with the top of the order coming up."
Brandon Harmon led Mill Creek with a 3-for-3 night, a sacrifice bunt and two runs scored while Logan Moseley and Drew Davis went 2-for-4 for the Hawks.
"This is a special group of kids and a blue-collar, lunch-pail type of team," Jones said. "We have 13 seniors on this team and I love 'em and appreciate what they did this season."
Connor Johnstone picked up the win on the mound for Roswell by going 6 innings and handed off to Devin Browning to close it for the important final two outs.
Davis, Hopkins, Dickerson and Ritson each had two hits for Roswell, which only scored in four of the 21 innings during the series, but found the right combination to post the big numbers when it counted.
Meanwhile, Mill Creek scored in 12 of its 21 at-bats, but eight of those innings produced just one run each in the series.