The John Milledge Academy and Pinewood baseball teams battled to a 1-1 series split Saturday.
Just like in the Trojans’ last round, a deciding Game 3 is needed to determine which team will advance in the state playoffs. JMA took the Game 1 slugfest 15-11 then dropped Game 2 in extra innings as the Pinewood Patriots earned a 5-4 walkoff win in the eighth.
The winner-take-all Game 3 is slated for 2 p.m. Monday at John Milledge.
Game 1 began innocently enough as JMA carried a 3-1 lead into the third inning. In that third frame though, visiting Pinewood produced a pair of two-out singles for third baseman Gabe Edwards. He smacked a three-run homer over the left-field fence that dinged the tin roof over the Trojans’ baseball fieldhouse/batting cage. The Patriots were up 7-3 heading into the bottom of the fourth when the home team came up with a big blow of its own. John Milledge had pushed one run across to make it 7-4 before loading the bases for senior cleanup hitter Carson Dyer. The Trojan third baseman cracked a big fly out to right-center, and flexed toward the Pinewood dugout as he made his way around the bases following the go-ahead knock.
The Patriots of Bellville tied the ballgame up in the fifth, but never got back into the driver’s seat in Game 1 as the Trojans plated two in the fifth and five in the sixth to finish off the heavyweight bout. The two state semifinalists combined for 26 runs and 27 hits in that opening contest.
Game 2 could not have been more different from a runs standpoint. John Milledge, batting as the visitors in the second game, scored two in the first after back-to-back leadoff doubles. They held on to that lead until the third when Pinewood’s Edwards struck again, this time for an RBI single that tied the game at 2-2. JMA went on to score one in fifth only to have Pinewood get it back in the sixth.
Neither team got anything in the seventh, so on to extras the game went. With two out and runners on second and third, Trojan right fielder Marcus Prestwood lined a single out to left that put the Trojans up 4-3. That meant the Patriots had to score at least one run in their turn or their season was over. Their bats answered the challenge with a single, bunt single (on a very close play at first), and a Parker Deal single that drove in the tying run. Pinewood two-hole hitter Mic Wasson came to the plate next and took advantage of the shallow-playing JMA outfield with a solid game-winning hit out to right.
Very similar to the Trojans’ quarterfinal series last week against Westfield, the visiting team seems to have a lot of the momentum heading into Game 3. The JMA boys are hoping to squash that momentum once again and punch their ticket to the state finals in Macon.