The Region 1 third-seeded Northside Patriots — in the program’s first Final Four in the school’s 17-year history — split Tuesday’s doubleheader at Region 8 first-seeded North Oconee.
Not only were the scores identical, 6-5, but both games also had the winning runs score in the bottom of the last inning.
In Game 1, the Patriots broke a 3-3 tie with a two-run sixth inning, but North Oconee scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh.
The Patriots outhit North Oconee 10-9 and played better defense (no errors for Northside and two errors for North Oconee), but North Oconee came through when it counted most.
Northside’s hitting leaders were Tray Richburg (3 hits, 2 RBI), Hunter Poe (2 hits, RBI) and Mack Williams (2 hits, RBI, home run).
Colton Joyner pitched six innings for the Patriots, striking out two.
In Game 2, the Patriots batted last this time — and produced a winning rally in the final inning of their own.
Connor O’Neal notched the clutch hit as Northside overcame a one-run deficit with a two-run seventh. O’Neal’s liner down the right-field line drove in Clayton Weaver with the winning run.
Although the Patriots committed more errors than North Oconee (3-2), they collected more hits (10-7).
O’Neal had four hits in the game.
Conner Sizemore pitched five innings for Northside, striking out two.
Game 3 for the Patriots (29-8) is scheduled to start 5 p.m. Wednesday at North Oconee (25-8).
Columbus girls soccer
After losing the 2016 Class AAAAA final, the Blue Devils dropped down in classification and reached the Class AAAA Sweet 16 in 2017 and the Elite Eight in 2018. Tuesday, they were in the 2019 Final Four.
The Region 1 first-seeded Blue Devils came oh-so close to qualifying for another final as they lost 2-1 to Region 7 first seed Flowery Branch at Kinnett Stadium.
Columbus (20-2) scored the game’s first goal, delivered by Shayla Perrymond off Abby Littleton’s assist, but Flowery Branch (19-3-1) got the equalizer and edged ahead by halftime.
Lizzie Hedrick made eight saves for Columbus, while the Blue Devils totaled six shots.