COLUMBUS, Ga. — A magical run into the Class AAAAA state playoffs came to an abrupt end for the Hardaway baseball team on Thursday as it dropped a decisive third game to Evans in the second round.
After falling behind by four runs, the Hawks came back to tie the score in the sixth inning, but lost 7-6 when the Knights’ Colin Dominy slapped an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh.
Evans was led by Dominy, who had two hits and three RBI. Tyler Roberts pitched three innings in relief of starter David Rivera, allowing just one run and picking up the victory.
“They’re a good team, a quality program,” Hardaway coach Chris Gilstrap said. “They’ve got a lot of tradition. They don’t beat themselves.”
Evans (20-7) advances to the quarterfinals, where it will face either Pope or Winder-Barrow on Tuesday.
The loss ended a season in which Hardaway won 25 games and its first region championship since 2005.
Hardaway surrendered six runs in the third inning to turn an early lead into a substantial deficit. At the time, Evans appeared poised to run away with the game.
As quickly as the momentum had shifted to the Knights, the Hawks grabbed some of it right back.
With two outs and a runner on in the fourth inning, Hardaway started chipping away. Josh Anthony was hit by a pitch and Sheridan Coy, walked to load the bases. A wild pitch brought one run home, and then Blake Meadows brought the other two in with a single to cut the Evans lead to 6-5. A strikeout ended the inning.
Hardaway added the tying run in the sixth on a fielder’s choice. Brandon Bynam hit a soft grounder to Roberts, who tried to come home with the throw. The throw was wide, but would not have gotten the runner anyway.
But the Hawks were unable to do any more damage, leaving the bases loaded.
Overall, though, the Hawks left 11 runners on base, missing a handful of opportunities to take command of the game.
Despite the loss, Gilstrap said this season had been an incredible move in the right direction for his program.
“We proved a lot of doubters wrong,” he said. “It was a step in the right direction. Many, many steps in the right direction.”