POWDER SPRINGS — Hillgrove went ahead on a sixth inning home run by Jacob Warren to squeeze out a 2-1 win in game one, and then ran away in a 9-1 victory in game two for a series sweep of visiting West Forsyth in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs.
The Hawks will now take on North Gwinnett in the quarterfinals of the tournament on Wednesday.
West ends its season at 18-15.
“Anytime you step on the field, you need to be ready to compete,” said Hillgrove coach Dave Richardson, referring to the inclement weather that postponed this series from Thursday night to Friday. Friday’s first pitch was also moved back to 6 p.m. because of rain in the afternoon.
“Luckily mother nature cooperated tonight, and we were able to play two games.”
Hillgrove’s Jamie Boatright pitched five innings in game one, giving up just one run and striking out five, but the win went to reliever Noah Turner. Warren’s home run came leading off the bottom of the 6th inning, clearing the left field wall easily, and putting the Hawks in front 2-1. Dalton Kent earned the save in the top of the seventh when he fielded a ground ball to finish the first game. Center fielder Bryson Parks made two catches on the run during the game with runners on base, preserving the score for Hillgrove.
Bryar Hawkins suffered the tough loss for West, despite throwing six strong innings and adding two hits at the plate. Lucas Ellenburg and Hank Flood each had two hits, while Indy Stanley drove in the Wolverines’ lone run.
“Boatright competed his tail off during game one, and Bryson made two incredible plays in the outfield that saved a bunch of runs for us” said Richardson.
Luke Torbert took the mound for the Hawks in game two and threw five innings of shutout baseball with eight strikeouts, but Hillgrove gave their pitcher plenty of run support to work with as well.
The Hawks scored six runs in the second inning, after the bases were loaded by a hit batsman and an infield hit. Right fielder Ethan Wright was also hit by a pitch, bringing in Warren from third base. On the next at bat, Parks continued his outstanding night, belting a grand slam over the left field wall for a 5-0 lead. Hillgrove added another run later in the inning when Boatright scored on an outfield error.
Hillgrove extended their lead to 9-0 in the fifth inning when Parks scored on a single by Steven Minter followed by a sacrifice fly by Will Hubbell that drove in Wade Richardson.
“We were able to put up that big second inning in game two” said Dave Richardson, “and I thought we had great at bats in both games. We really competed.”
West managed just four hits in game two, including two by Connor Weldy. Hank Flood and Jacob Tate each struck out five on the mound.