With the baseball regular season in its final week, Harlem needed a win against Westside Tuesday night to have a chance to finish at the top of Region 3B-AAA.
A half-game separated the top four teams in the region. A Bulldogs' loss and they could finish as low as fourth, but a win would give them a shot at either first or second place. The Bulldogs jumped out to a quick lead and ensured they would have one of the top spots with a 10-0, five-inning romp.
With a Friday night win against Josey, the Bulldogs (14-5, 6-3 region) would finish first with a Grovetown win against Thomson on Friday.
"I was just praying and hoping for a for a one-run victory," said Bulldogs head coach Jimmie Lewis. "They came to play and we got some big hits from the bottom of the order."
The top of the order wasn't bad either, especially Aaron Moore. The junior shortstop tripled home two runs in the top of the first, was hit by a pitch to drive in a run in the second and got his fourth RBI with a single in the fourth. He said the first inning was an important one.
"It was probably the biggest inning we've had all year," he said.
The Bulldogs banged out 10 hits with all but one starter getting at least one. Devin Critell was two for three with two RBI and Logan May was one for one with an RBI.
Staked to the early lead, junior Chaise Dukes shut down the Patriots (13-6, 6-3), allowing four hits and striking out four to earn his sixth win of the season with just one loss. He allowed Patriots baserunners in every inning, but worked out of trouble. He got a double play in the third inning to stop one rally, then got two full-count strikeouts with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth to end the game.
"Chaise did a good job for us," Lewis said. "He threw strikes, he made them swing and miss and pop-up."
The Bulldogs chased Patriots' starter Jonathon Wilson (2-3) after Aaron Hintz singled to start the second inning. After reliever Joe Thompson got the first out of the inning, he hit Logan May, Bryson Serigney and Moore to force in a run.
In the fourth inning, the Bulldogs added five runs to finish it off. Tyler Thigpen was hit leading off, was bunted over by Trey Price and scored on May's single. After a Serigney fly out, singles by Moore, Gregg Thompson, Dalton Green and Critell all plated runs.