HAMILTON, Ga. -- Zach Rovig never saw the stop signal.
When the left fielder ripped a pitch deep into the gap in left center, he rounded second and was determined to stretch a sure double into a risky triple. He narrowly beat the relay thow, sliding in safely and giving Harris County some much-needed momentum.
Rovig's triple highlighted a four-run inning and sent the Tigers to a 10-5 victory Wednesday over East Paulding in Game 1 of the second round of the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA baseball state playoffs.
The teams were scheduled to play a doubleheader but heavy afternoon showers pushed the start time back into the evening, allowing for just one game. The second game begins at 4:30 p.m. today with the third game to follow if needed.
Harris County (23-5) had watched East Paulding score three runs in the fourth inning to trim the deficit to 5-3. With the momentum swinging toward the Raiders, Rovig was determined to get it back.
"I was just trying to stretch it out," Rovig said of his triple. "I'm all for the team."
After Rovig slid safely, it was a sigh of relief from coach Steve Westmoreland, especially since he said Rovig ran through the stop signal he was holding up.
"We're not to a point where we want our players stretching things out like that," Westmoreland said. "With him being very aggressive on the base paths, he made the right call."
Rovig scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-3, then RBI singles from Ty Edwards and Walker Borneman and an RBI double from Andrew Fears helped Harris County to a commanding 9-3 lead.
With starter Payne Kosobucki in control, that seemed to be all the Tigers would need.
Kosobucki nearly went the distance. He allowed five runs on 11 hits and eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. He was lifted for side-arm reliever Jeremy Sanders, who recorded the final out to record the save.
Kosobucki said he wanted to finish but his pitch count had exceeded 100 pitches.
"I wasn't expecting to finish," he said. "Coach had already told me he was going to move me to right field, but then he asked me if I had enough to finish. I said yes. I guess I didn't have it in me."
More importantly, Kosobucki shut down an East Paulding team that scored 35 runs in its first-round series win over Redan. Every hitter for the Raiders had at least one hit. Kosobucki also got some solid defense, including a 6-4-3 double play to escape a bases-loaded jam in the third.
"Our defense has been there for us all year," he said. "They haven't let me down or any other pitcher on our team."
The Tigers jumped on the Raiders to start the game, using a three-run first and never trailed. Westmoreland hopes for similar results today.
He knows holding East Paulding's potent lineup at bay for a second consecutive game will be a challenge.
"We've got to get them out and go," Westmoreland said. "Every pitch you throw at them, there's pressure. But the good thing is they have to come back and beat us twice."
Wednesday at Harris County
E. Paulding 000 300 2 --5 12 1
Harris Co. 302 041 x --10 11 1
WP - Payne Kosobucki. LP - McKay Petitta. Leading hitters: East Paulding - Glen Finks 2-4; Mitchell Webb 2-4; Kyler Neal 2-3, RBI; Petitta 1-4, 2B, 2 RBIs. Harris County - Cody Sheedy 2-4, 2B; Ty Edwards 2-3, 2 RBIs; Tyler Milner 1-2, 2 RBIs; Zach Rovig 1-3, 3B; Kevin Shavers 1-2, HR, RBI; Walker Borneman 1-3, RBI; Andrew Fears 1-4, 2B, RBI. Records: East Paulding 19-11. Harris County 23-5. Next Game: East Paulding at Harris County, Game 2 of best-of-three series, today, 4:30 p.m.