Evans 7, Hawks 6
Hardaway second baseman Will Griggs is safe at home Thursday after Evans pitcher Garrett Wilkinson threw a wild pitch to the backstop. Catcher Matt Anderson tried to get it back to Wilkinson, but the throw was not in time.

FORT BENNING, Ga., (May 15, 2013) -- The Hardaway High School baseball team made a 180-degree turnaround in 2013 from the 2012 season -- winning 25 games, compared to just nine the previous year, and earning a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs.

So emotions were high when the season came to a bittersweet end at home Thursday. A walk-off single by Colin Dominy sent Evans High School to the Class AAAAA quarterfinals with a 7-6 victory over the Hawks in the deciding second-round Game 3.

A lead-off walk and a sacrifice bunt set up Dominy with a runner in scoring position and just one out. With the score tied 6-6, Dominy hit a line drive just over the head of Hawks' short stop Marcell Byrd and the ball landed too far away from center fielder Justin Ellison to have any chance of throwing out Jeremy Clements at home.

Not much was said by the players as Hardaway head coach Chris Gilstrap addressed them after the game, but from their facial expressions, not much needed to be.

When Gilstrap spoke to the media after the game, the six runs Evans scored in the third inning and the Hawks (25-7) leaving the bases loaded in the sixth were far from his mind. His biggest concern was for the players he's grown so close to over this season.

"If we go out, I guess that's the way to do it," Gilstrap said. "Our guys have nothing to be ashamed of. They had a season that most people dream of having. Winning 25 games as opposed to nine last year and we were a base hit away from making it to the quarterfinals. I just hurt for them.

"They're disappointed. Nobody wants the season to end. We had dreams of going a few more rounds. Unfortunately, everyone except one team will end the season with a loss. It's tough to tell teenagers that. It hurts right now."

Gilstrap and his team knew they could have this kind of year after getting so many experienced players to return. The result was a Region 1-AAAAA championship -- the school's first since 2005.

"We proved a lot of doubters wrong this year," he said. "It was a step in the right direction, to be sure.

"We hadn't made the playoffs since 2010 and winning nine games last year was an all-time low. These guys just went to work and did everything possible so that didn't happen again. Words can't describe the amount of emotion we're feeling right now."

Hardaway jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but Evans (20-7) exploded for six runs in the bottom of the third inning, in which the Knights collected five base hits and three walks while hitting straight through their lineup.

Evans appeared poised for a blow out, but Hardaway came back with three runs of its own in the top of the fourth inning as Blake Meadows drove in two with a single to center field.

The Hawks tied the game in the top of the sixth inning, but could have done much more damage with the bases loaded and just one out. Bryan Pate struck out and Trevon Dorsey flew out to right field to get the Knights out of the jam.

"They're a good team, a quality program," Gilstrap said. "They've got a lot of tradition. They don't beat themselves."

Evans began a best-of-three game series in the quarterfinals against Pope High School Tuesday.

Page last updated Wed May 15th, 2013 at 00:00