POWDER SPRINGS -- Woodstock and Hillgrove will play one more game for a spot in the Class AAAAAAA quarterfinals after splitting their series-opening double-header Wednesday at Hillgrove.
Both teams had some bright spots but will need to find better pitching in Game 3 after the Wolverines (23-11) won Game 1 14-2 and the Hawks forced a third game with a 13-9 win in Game 2.
“We played a really competitive two games,” Woodstock coach Jeff Brown said. “(Thursday) is going to be a dog fight. I expect another competitive game. Neither team gave up and continued to battle. I’m proud of our guys, but now we have to come out here and find a way to in.”
The Wolverines took control of Game 1 right away with with seven runs in the first two innings.
Colby Cox was 5-for-5 with five RBIs in the series opener. Christian Preiser drove in three, and Carter Maczko and Preston Gunnell each drove in a pair.
As a team, Woodstock had 17 hits and eight walks in Game 1.
“I think we’re hitting the ball well,” Brown said. “Against teams like this, we know we’re going to have to score some runs. I think we did that. We just needed a few more.”
On the mound, Josiah Siegel kept Hillgrove in check, scattering six hits over six innings with six strikeouts.
The Hawks flipped the script in Game 2, though, sending six batters to the plate and three different Woodstock pitchers to the mound before the first out of the game.
That offense continued throughout the game, with Hillgrove scoring in each of the first five innings, recording 14 hits, including seven doubles, and 11 walks and taking a 13-7 lead to the seventh inning.
“I’m proud of our guys for sticking to their approach,” Hillgrove coach David Richardson said. “I thought we hit some balls well in the first game, but it was always right out them. We stuck with it, though, and they started to fall.”
The bulk of Hillgrove’s Game 2 production came from the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 hitters, as Deion Walker and Reid Brown each drove in four runs, and Mason Curtis drove in four.
Walker did well to eat some hinnings for the Hawks to eat 4 ⅓ innings, but the Woodstock bats did not cool off much.
The Wolverines were able to get the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning and added 10 more hits and seven more walks, led by Brennan Milone’s four RBIs.
In the double-header, Woodstock used eight pitchers, and Hillgrove used nine, though both coaches say they believe in what remains in their stable is enough to advance.
“We’re looking at everyone as being available,” Richardson said. “This time of year, you have to have depth. We’ve worked on it this season, and this is where we need it to pay off.”