The Carrollton High School baseball team delivered a pristine performance in a do-or-die Game 3 state playoff showdown on Friday night at Cole Field.
The top-seeded Trojans were sound in all phases en route to an 11-1, five-inning victory over second-seeded Chamblee to advance to the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals for the second consecutive season.
"Our guys came in real relaxed (Friday), they played loose and they played up to their ability and it showed," Carrollton head coach Ryan Zaideman said. "Our pitching was lights-out. Will Carney did an excellent job of attacking the strike zone and did a good job of getting ahead after three pitches. The defense made some great plays. Brandon Prince was lights-out and Ty Murray made some good snags over there at third. Then our outfield guys, they cover a lot of real estate with Destine (Udombon), Asa (Awbrey) and Charlie (Lanier)."
Carrollton (28-8) moves on to host fellow No. 1 seed Starr's Mill in the elite eight, beginning with a doubleheader at Cole Field on Wednesday. The Panthers (23-9) swept Harris County in 1-0 and 2-1 decisions in the second round.
Carney was dominant on the hill for the Trojans, needing just 53 pitches to get through five innings, allowing an unearned run on three hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
The senior right-hander retired the first 10 batters he faced until a passed ball on a third strike put the first runner aboard in the top of the fourth.
Matthew Welsh followed with the first hit of the game for the Bulldogs (25-10) with a double to the gap and an RBI single by Norman Kelly in the next at-bat produced the first and only run, but Carney kept the damage minimal by picking Kelly off trying to steal second and getting a pop-out to short to end the threat.
The Trojans struck offensively right away in the home half of the first when leadoff hitter Destine Udombon blasted a triple to the right-center gap and Awbrey followed with an RBI base knock in the next at-bat for the 1-0 advantage.
Carrollton sent nine hitters to the plate in the second, scoring five runs on five hits, a walk and two errors to stretch the score to 6-0 after two.
Lanier, Andy Smith and Murray had three straight singles to start the rally, including a beautiful bunt by Smith that resulted in a throwing error to bring home Lanier. Following a walk to Grayson Udombon and another bunt single by catcher Jared Aldridge to load the bases, Destine Udombon looped an RBI single into shallow center, Awbrey followed with an RBI sac fly and Prince capped off the scoring with an RBI groundout. Smith scored the second run of the inning on a double steal with Murray.
Carrollton added a single run in the third on an RBI base knock from Murray to score Lanier, who led off the inning with a single and stole second.
After Chamblee got on the board in the fourth, Prince got the run right back with one swing of the bat in the bottom half of the inning on a solo shot into the left-field student section.
The Trojans were able to end it early for a second straight game by plating three in the fifth, as Grayson Udombon and Luke Shilling had one-out singles, which was followed by a run scoring on an error, an RBI groundout by Awbrey and the game-ending RBI single from Prince.
Zaideman thought his squad could get to the Bulldogs early on Friday and knock the energy out of them, and that's exactly how it played out.
"We figured if we could jump on them early, it would be tough for them to come back on us. That first inning Destine really set the tone with that triple and Asa come in right behind him. Asa hit the ball real hard (Friday)," said Zaideman, who also praised the bunting prowess of Smith and Aldridge. "We had a lot of guys that the box score may not show hits, but we barreled up a lot of baseballs. Our hitters did a good job of hitting balls hard. We got a little impatient and a little too aggressive later in the game, but overall our hitters did a really good job."
Lanier (2-for-2, BB, SB, 2 runs), Grayson Udombon (2-for-2, BB, 2 runs), Destine Udombon (2-for-3, SB, 3B, 2 runs, RBI), Murray (2-for-3, SB, run, RBI) and Prince (2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI) all had multiple-hit efforts to lead the Trojans offensively.
Carrollton will now begin preparations for Starr's Mill, which reached the state semifinals last year and fell to eventual state champion Loganville in a three-game series.
"Coach (Brent) Moseley, he's got a great program over there. I've got nothing but the utmost respect for him and what he does. They've got some good athletes and we know it's going to be a dogfight," Zaideman said.