The road to a state title ended Wednesday for Harlem as the Bulldogs were swept in Dublin, while the Evans Knights lasted to game three before being eliminated from contention Thursday.
Evans 10-1-5, Lassiter 9-6-6
Back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning and a controversial balk in the second propelled Lassiter to a third-game victory over Evans on Thursday.
The win halted the Knights' run in AAAAA state baseball playoffs at the second round.
On Wednesday, Evans failed to parlay the success of an emotional first-game 10-9 win over Lassiter into a doubleheader sweep. Evans left 10 men on base as it lost 6-1 in Game 2 of the three-game series.
The split forced a deciding game Thursday at Blanchard Stadium.
The Trojans struck first in the third game. Brandon May lead off the inning with a double. Chandler Corley grounded out to first, advancing May to third. The third baseline umpire then called a balk on Evans pitcher Zack Baker that sent May home.
No. 2 seed Evans (21-8) answered with a run of their own in the third.
With two outs, Trojan hurler Davey Knapp walked two batters, setting up an RBI single for Ken Raburn.
A Lassiter walk and two errors put Evans runners on first and third in the top of the fourth inning. Baker doubled to center field, sending Ryan Pressley home. Trojan center fielder Grant Youngblood overthrew third baseman Ryan Piezell, which sent Brad Freeman to home plate.
Lassiter evened the score with three runs of their own in inning four.
After two quick outs, Baker walked the next two batters setting up an RBI double by Kevin Bishop. A Bobby Rowan worm-burner down the third baseline brought home two more Trojan runs.
Evans took the lead again in the sixth when Hank McCladdie found home plate after Baker hit into a double play.
Lassiter (18-13) sealed the game in the sixth when John Vidic and May hit consecutive home runs.
An Evans attempt to tie in the top of the seventh resulted in three up, three down.
Following the game, the Knights took a knee in front of Evans coach Ricky Beale.
"I told them I was proud of them," he said. "They made it all the way to the sixth inning of the third game in the second round. I don't think I could have asked for much more."
Harlem 2-3, Dublin 12-18
A Dublin hitting frenzy evicted Harlem from the second round of state AAA baseball playoffs on Wednesday.
Dublin defeated the Bulldogs 12-2 in the first game and then turned around and pounded out four home runs to win 18-3 in game two.
Irish batters recorded 24 hits, with 10 of those being for multiple bases in the double header.
In Game 1, David New connected with a curve ball on a two-strike count. He sent it sailing over the left-field fence for the first run of the game. Russell Youngblood followed by drawing a walk and was advanced to second on a single by David Shepard. Jonathan Morris reached on a fielder's choice while Brian Mimbs hit a single to left to score Youngblood.
Antwuan Gray hit back to the pitcher to load the bases. The Irish were leading 2-0 until Corey Dixon stepped up to the plate and pounded a grand slam over the right field fence.
After four complete innings, the Irish led 9-2 over the Bulldogs.
Gray started the Irish off in the bottom of the inning with a base hit. Dixon reached base after being hit by a pitch and Brett Mitchell walked to load the bases. Nate Thomas hit a two-RBI single to give the Irish an 11-2 lead over Harlem.
New was the next batter and Harlem intentionally walked him in an attempt to prolong the game. The maneuver failed when Youngblood stepped up to the plate and hit a single to right field that scored Mitchell for Game 1's last run.
The hits continued for the Irish in the second game.
New blasted a shot to center to open the game and was followed by Jonathan Morris hitting a two-run homer three batters later.
Mitchell took a cue from New in the second inning and sent a pitch sailing over the scoreboard to give the Irish a 4-0 lead.
Harlem called for a pitching change after that, but it didn't hinder Dublin's progress.
Cox and New each got base hits and Youngblood reached on an error. Gray scored Youngblood with another single to give the Irish a 7-0 advantage.
The fourth and final Irish home run of the game came in the third inning. Cox started with a base hit, followed by New reaching first after being hit by a pitch. Both scored on back-to-back hits by Shepard and Morris. Mimbs came to the plate for a three-run bomb to give the Irish a 12-0 lead.
Harlem got on board with a two-run shot by Rusty James.
In the top of the fifth, the Irish scored six runs on six hits to seal the game in their favor.
Staff writer Chris Gay and The Courier-Herald writer Kelly Caldwell contributed to this story.
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