Just like in round one, a single game will decide the Carrollton High School baseball team's Class AAAAA postseason fate as it is set for an all-important Game 3 battle with Chamblee today at 5:30 p.m. at Cole Field.
The top-seeded Trojans split their second-round series opening doubleheader with the second-seeded Bulldogs on Thursday, falling 8-6 in the opener before obliterating the visitors in a 15-0, three-inning blowout in the nightcap.
Chamblee (25-9) jumped on Carrollton (27-8) starter Rhett Daniel immediately in Game 1, getting two runs off the Coastal Carolina signee in the top of the first.
But Bulldog starter Max Stephens ended up helping his own cause in the second by ripping a three-run double to left field. Daniel would balk home a run later in the inning to give the visitors from DeKalb County an early 6-1 advantage.
Down 8-3 in the sixth, Ty Murray started a late-game comeback effort for the Black and Gold when he crushed a solo blast to right-center.
Then with two outs and designated hitter Andy Smith on in the bottom of the seventh, the junior third baseman Murray slapped a two-bagger to left field to bring home another run. That set the stage for sophomore pinch-hitter Josh Lee to knock Murray home with a double of his own to pull the Trojans within two.
With leadoff hitter Destine Udombon being hit by a pitch, the junior Awbrey stepped to the plate representing the winning run. However, a slow grounder to second put a cap to the contest and put the Bulldogs up 1-0 in the best-of-three-series.
Although his Region 7-AAAAA champions put themselves in an unenviable position of falling behind in the series, Carrollton head coach Ryan Zaideman was encouraged by what he saw from his batters in the last two innings.
"We were rushing a couple of things early on, but our defense settled in and made a good rally late," Zaideman said. "We just came up a little short."
With their backs against the wall and facing elimination, the home team wasted zero time in getting to Chamblee Game 2 starter Michael Sarzen.
With runners on the corners in the top of the first, right fielder Charlie Lanier knocked a two-run triple to left the put the Trojans on the board. He would reach home by way of a single from Smith to give Carrollton an early 3-0 lead.
Then things really to started to snowball on the Region 5-AAAAA runner-ups in the top of the third.
Being patient at the plate, Carrollton managed to plate nine runs in the frame, five coming from bases-loaded walks. Having the necessary 15 runs for a three-inning run-rule to go into effect, the Trojans promptly finished things out in the bottom of the third to force today's elimination game at the "Green Mile."
Senior Jared Soliz started Game 2 and fired two shutout innings before being pulled prior to the bottom of the third with the score out of hand to save his arm for potential action today.
"We carried the adjustments we made at the plate over to Game 2 and our pitchers did a good job of throwing strikes," Zaideman said. "If we can do those things (today), then we'll be in good shape."
The winner of today's elimination game will advance to next week's Class AAAAA quarterfinal round where they'd battle Starr's Mill in a best-of-three series. Zaideman is confident in his players' ability to be locked in from the opening pitch this evening.
"The guys are going to come out relaxed (today) and will be ready to go," Zaideman said. "Our biggest opponent is ourselves, which is why we have to be focused. We just have to go out there and dominate the routine plays, pound the strike zone, hunt pitches that are within our plan and not help their pitchers by swinging at their pitches."