Lakeside forces Game 3 in baseball playoffs

Lakeside had chance after chance in Tuesday's series opener but failed to capitalize against Northgate's ace.

The Panthers left nothing to chance in Game 2.

Facing the threat of elimination after a 3-1 defeat, Lakeside got on the board quickly in Game 2 and then piled on, accumulating 18 hits in a dominant, 11-4 victory that sent the Georgia High School Association quarterfinals to a deciding Game 3 today.

The Panthers (26-6) have gone the full three games in each of their three playoff series.

"I'm surprised we got this many hits (Tuesday), because usually Game 3s are our big games," Lakeside's Zach Hayden said.

Staked to a 6-0 lead in Game 2, Ben Black cruised through the first four innings, aside from a two-run homer by Chris Brewer allowed in the third. Black tired in the fifth inning, allowing his first walk and a pair of singles as the Vikings loaded the bases with no outs.

Hayden took over in the tight situation, inducing a fielder's choice before walking home a run. The senior then struck out consecutive hitters to get out with minimal damage.

"It's a lot of pressure, but those are the kinds of situations I live for," Hayden said. "It feels great, because that was a do-or-die game for my high school career."

Hayden didn't allow a hit while earning a three-inning save.

He struck out seven, including five of the last six hitters he faced, as he made a winner out of Black.

The pair of seniors contributed at the plate, as well. They finished the second game with identical lines, each going 3 for 5 with a home run and three RBI.

Hayden's homer was the first of back-to-back shots along with Derek Russo. Meanwhile, Black homered not far from the left-field foul pole in the first inning to open the scoring for the Panthers.

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