September 16, 2021

Braves still alive after thrilling walk-off win

(Franklin, GA) — After the dust had cleared following a dramatic doubleheader at HHS Tuesday, neither the Braves nor the Golden Bears of Holy Innocents High School were able to stake a claim to a spot in the Final Four of the Class AA GHSA State Playoffs.

The Braves rallied for one of the most exciting wins in school history in game one versus the private Atlanta school before coming up on the short end of another one run game in the night-cap of the most exciting Class AA Quarterfinal series in the state.

The 7-6 game one win came after the home Braves trailed 6-2 heading to the bottom of the sixth inning.

Coach Trent Bianco’s offense would strike for two in the sixth and three in the bottom of the seventh in a furious rally to win game one. The key blow was a pinch hit walk-off base hit from senior Zack Hill.

Starter Lee Kay pitched well in game one shutting out the Bears before they opened up the game with six runs including a 2-run homer, a 2-run single, and three doubles.

Ethan Brant and Tristan Brown got the scoring started in game one with two-out base hits in the first and second innings respectively to give the Braves a 2-0 lead.

The pitchers would dominate until the Bears big inning in the sixth. Hits from Chandler Polk, Trey Alford, Keagan Spradlin, and Drew Blair would lead the way to two runs in the sixth and a slimmer 6-4 Bear lead.

Logan Ward kept the Bears at bay in the top of the seventh to earn the win.

Junior Ethan Brant (#15)slides into second base during an exciting 7-6 game one Braves win (Photo courtesy of Melanie Boyd/Times-Georgian)

Junior Ethan Brant (#15)slides into second base during an exciting 7-6 game one Braves win (Photo courtesy of Melanie Boyd/Times-Georgian)

Lee Kay led off the seventh with a single and an error followed by a hit batter loaded the bases. Kay scored on a wild pitch and an RBI ground out from Spradlin tied things up at 6-6.

Hill’s base hit would send the home crowd into a frenzy as Polk scored the winning run. It was not the first big pinch-hit for Hill. Hill also had a huge walk-off hit versus Bremen last season at Alford Field.

The talented Golden Bears would strike back in game two taking a 5-1 lead before hanging on to win 5-4.

Game two senior starting pitcher Keagan Spradlin got the Braves on the board first with a squeeze in the top of the second before the Bears answered with two in the bottom of the third and three more in the fifth.

It was a Drew Blair RBI single that brought the Braves to within one in the top of the sixth. There was a short delay in the game after a lighting malfunction but the decision was made to play on.

The first pitch of game three will be at 5:00 PM Wednesday afternoon at Alford Field as the Braves look to earn a spot in the Final Four for the first time since 1985.

“The good thing about this is our guys know what to expect. We were in this same spot last season,” said Bianco Tuesday night.”We’re the last team in our area to be playing ball and that’s something our kids have to be proud of. Game three should be a lot of fun — it’s why we do what we do.”

In other Class AA action, GAC swept Bowdon 8-3 and 12-4, Lovett swept Union County 4-3 and 13-2, and Wesleyan swept Berrien 8-1 and 5-4.

The Braves were the only public school to survive day one of the quarterfinal match-ups which were all public vs. private.

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