Lee County dominated Game 3 of the controversial state semifinal series, ending the drama with an 8-0 win over Johns Creek Friday afternoon in Leesburg.
The Trojans wanted to make a statement, and they did.
"They wanted a Game 3, so we gave them a Game 3," shortstop Tyler Simon says. "We came out on top."
Josh Hatcher struck out seven and allowed only two hits on his way to a complete game shutout.
"They're not going to take game three from us. There's no way," Hatcher says about his mentality. "No matter how it was going to happen, whether by one run, ten runs, or twenty runs, it wasn't going to happen."
After allowing a hit in the first, Hatcher got into a groove. He sat down Gladiator after Gladiator over the next five innings until Johns Creek collected their second hit of the game in the 6th.
"The first game that I threw against them, they dinged me around a good bit," Hatcher says. "But today, I hit my spots. I worked offspeed in here and there to throw them off, and my defense was phenomenal. I have to give them credit too."
Both Hatcher and head coach Brandon Brock believed this was Hatcher's best performance. For Simon, it was another Hatcher gem.
"I think i've seen it so much that it doesn't even amaze me any more," Simon laughs. "But every time he steps on the mound, he puts on a show for everybody."
As well as Hatcher pitched, Johns Creek starter Jared Mihalik matched him pitch for pitch.
At least until the 5th inning.
The Trojans sent 11 to the plate in the 5th, scoring seven runs to blow the game wide open.
"I told them the team that wins this game will be the team that cracks last," Brock says. "The team that cracks first will lose, and we just stayed persistent."
Lee County advances to the Class 6A state championship to face Pope next week.
Games 1 and 2 will be played Monday beginning at 11 a.m. in Rome. Game 3 will be Tuesday at Mercer University's Claude Smith Field if necessary.
Jake Wallace will have a full recap of the game tonight on WALB News 10.
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