Brown, Bynam lead Hawks to Game 1 victory
By AARON BRENNER
In Game 1, Hardaway's pitching and defense kept Evans at bay in a never-ending series of jams.
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In Game 2, the floodgates finally opened for Evans, forcing a decisive third game Thursday.
Hardaway had its opportunity to sweep its guest in a GHSA Class AAAAA second-round series after a 7-5 opening victory, but Evans battled back to grab a split Wednesday with an 10-5 win.
The Hawks (26-6), who will host the Knights (19-7) Thursday at 4:30 p.m. with the winner advancing to the state quarterfinals, jumped out on top in both outings. Once they survived a spirited Evans comeback, but not twice.
Here is a new link to keep up with Thursday's Game 3.
In the opener, Hardaway grabbed a 4-0 lead in the first inning, aided by a 2-run error, but twice saw its lead shrink to one run.
Senior third baseman Brandon Bynam clouted a 2-run home run to center to restore Hardaway's cushion to 6-3, and followed up with a terrific diving snag at third base to end a fourth-inning threat.
"He threw me a curveball, so I lit up and just let loose," Bynam said.
It was rush hour on the basepaths for Evans -- Hardaway's scorekeeper logged senior pitcher C.J. Brown as hurling 148 pitches, laboring through 40 batters to complete the game.
"He pitches in and out of jams -- has all year long," Hawks coach Chris Gilstrap said. "He's good enough that he's going to give us a chance no matter what happens."
In the seventh, Brown found himself in trouble with the tying run aboard and one out facing the heart of the Evans lineup.
But a flyout to deep center and grounder to second sealed the game one triumph. The Knights stranded 14
runners, including seven in the last three innings.
"I just try not to get shaken up on the mound, and keep throwing strikes to get us out of innings," Brown said, improving his record to 11-0. "Got to keep the streak alive."
The Hawks were not so fortunate in the potential clincher, as sophomore Tre'von Dorsey couldn't dance out of trouble. Hardaway went up 3-0 early on home runs by senior Justin Ellison and sophomore Blake Rupp.
But the Knights collected five hits to erase the deficit in the bottom of the third, and started pounding Dorsey in the fourth -- coming up with just one go-ahead run amidst two long fly ball outs. The onslaught continued in the fifth, when a four-run frame on four singles sealed Evans' comeback.
"Those guys, man, they hit the baseball. Goodness gracious, they swing the bats," Evans coach Ricky Beale said. "Our kids were strong enough not to quit. They gave us some opportunities. Hopefully, we'll learn from it a little bit, because I'm sure (Thursday) they're going to come out swinging again like they did today."
Junior Blake Meadows, who was 3-for-3 in Game 2, vaulted a solo shot to center in the seventh, making it four Hardaway home runs on the afternoon. Raekwon Bennett and Kelvin McCladdie went deep for Evans.
Wednesday at Hardaway
Evans 003 020 0--5 7 3
Hardaway 402 001 x--7 6 2
WP - Cedric Brown (11-0). LP - GarrettWilkinson (5-3). Leading hitters - Evans: Wilkinson 2-4, R, RBI; Matt Anderson 2-3; Jeremy Clements 1-4, R; Raekwon Bennett 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Kyle Anderson 1-4, R, 2B. Hardaway: Josh Anthony 2-3, R, RBI; Blake Meadows 1-3, 2B, R, RBI; Justin Ellison 0-3, 2 R; Brandon Bynam 1-1, HR, 3 RBI; Trevon Dorsey 2-3, 2B.
Hardaway 210 010 1--5 9 2
Evans 003 142 x--10 13 1
WP - K Anderson (9-1). LP - Dorsey (5-5). Leading hitters - Hardaway: Meadows 3-3, HR, 2B, 2 R, RBI; Ellison 1-3, HR, 2 RBI; Bynam 2-4, 2B; Blake Rupp 1-3, HR. Evans: Wilkinson 2-5, R, 2 RBI; Spencer Murray 3-4, 2B, R, RBI; M Anderson 2-4, R; Bennett 1-4, HR; Clements 1-2, 2 R, RBI; K Anderson 2-3, R, RBI; Colin Dominy 1-2, 2B, RBI; Brice Harrison 2-3, 2B, 2 R; Kelvin McCladdie 1-3, HR, 2 RBI.
Records: Evans 19-7, Hardaway 26-5. Next game: Evans at Hardaway, Thursday, 4:30 p.m.