Mountain View’s A.J. Moore
HOSCHTON — A.J. Moore walked off Fathers Field with a satisfied smile Friday night.
The Mountain View senior, pitching at rival Mill Creek likely for the final time in his high school baseball career, delivered another sterling effort and the Bears took sole possession of first place in Region 7-AAAAAA with a 2-0 victory.
Moore, a Kennesaw State signee, struck out 11 and walked just one in a three-hitter, earning the victory when his team advantage of Mill Creek mistakes to scrape across one run each in the sixth and seventh innings.
The Bears (18-3, 9-2) broke a first-place tie with Mill Creek (12-9, 8-3), winning for the first time at Fathers Field and completing their first-ever season sweep of the Hawks, who fell into a second-place deadlock with Peachtree Ridge.
“I don’t think we’ve ever beaten them at their place so it’s a real big deal, especially putting us ahead a full game for first place in the region,” Moore said. “It’s definitely a good stepping stone for the rest of the season.”
Moore (7-0) needed an economical 88 pitches in the complete game.
“(Moore) made some great pitches when he had to,” Mountain View head coach Jason Johnson said. “He got down in some counts but he always fought back. He’s always going to give us a chance to win. Our guys know that. Our guys feel great when they go out here. They can take a little pressure off because they know he is going to give us a great outing every time.”
Fellow right-hander Logan Moseley of Mill Creek matched Moore’s scoreless outing most of the night, but defensive miscues in the final two innings led to a pair of costly unearned runs. Moseley, a Georgia signee, gave up eight hits, all singles, in 6 2/3 innings.
Josh Logan led the Bears’ offense, going 3-for-4 with a stolen base.
“it was a great high school baseball game,” Mill Creek head coach Doug Jones said. “Two really good pitching performances. If we make a couple of plays, we might still be playing. That’s the way it goes. We know it’s going to be tough scoring runs off (Moore). You just tip your hat to him.”
Mountain View got its much-needed run in the seventh inning, which began when Forrest Girardeau (2-for-3) legged out an infield single. With one out, Sam Freitas hit a lifted a ball that the glanced off the Mill Creek right fielder’s glove and put runners on first and third instead of recording the second out.
Moseley induced Matt Hubbard into a grounder that could have been an inning-ending double play, but the throw to first was off the mark and Girardeau trotted in for a 1-0 lead.
Zach Miller (2-for-3) created the Bears’ seventh-inning run with a leadoff single and a stolen base, followed by a sacrifice bunt from Cameron Hankins. He came home moments later on a wild pitch by Moseley.
“We had a number of opportunities early in the game,” Johnson said. “We just needed one big hit here or there and we didn’t get it early. Late in the game we were able to manufacture a run there and scratch one across.”
The lead was safe thanks to Moore.
He retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced and the only blemish during that span happened when he jammed Kyle Abernathy and it resulted in a bloop single that just left the infield. Only two runners reached second base against Moore and none made it past there.
“When we get those runs, it just puts a whole lot new kind of adrenaline in you,” Moore said. “It makes you want to throw even harder and punch more people out.”
Mill Creek had its best chance to score in the second inning after Jacob Freeland’s one-out double. But Mountain View turned a key double play when Girardeau made a nice scoop of a one-hopper throw to first base.
From there, the Hawks didn’t have much luck against the Bears’ ace.
“We’ve never beaten them here,” Johnson said. “It’s a huge win for us to get a one-game lead, but also it gives us the tiebreaker as well. That came back and got us last year being in a tiebreaker to get into the playoffs. We’re going to keep focusing on one game at a time like we always do, but (the tiebreaker) is a huge advantage for us if we keep going out and playing good baseball.”
Mountain View finished the week 2-1, as did Mill Creek. The Hawks struggled early in the season, but have fared much better in region play.
“We went 2-1, got ourselves back in it after a rough start,” Jones said. “I’m proud of the kids. There’s still a lot of baseball left to be played.”