Etowah players celebrate after sweeping Woodstock to win the Class 7A title
at State Mutual Stadium. (Special Photo)
ROME -- Niko Cho's RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning scored the game-winning run to help Etowah defeat Woodstock 5-4 in a marathon Game 2 and sweep the best-of-three Class 7A state championship series at State Mutual Stadium Wednesday night.
Cho's walkoff highlighted a two-run inning in which the Eagles rallied to tie the game at 4 after Woodstock had broke a 3-all tie with a run in the top of the inning.
The Eagles took the first game, 4-1, then won the marathon thriller in the nightcap to win the battle of Cherokee County schools less than 10 minutes apart. Etowah, who finished as the fourth seed from Region 4, needed three games to win every series in the state playoffs -- until Wednesday night.
Playing in the first neutral-site series in the history of the Georgia High School Association, Etowah made its first state championship a memorable one.
After Ethan Underwood limited Woodstock to just one run on six hits in the complete-game victory in Game 1, Andrew Keene gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead in the third inning of Game 2 with a three-run homer.
But Woodstock quickly answered to tie the game at 3 in the top of the fourth.
Neither team scored until Justin Bailey scored on an error to give Woodstock the lead in the 11th.
Drew Waters' triple in the bottom of the 11th scored Nick Bartosz to tie the game, setting up Niko Cho's heroics.
Waters finished 3-for-5 with a double, triple and an RBI. He needed a homer to hit for the cycle. Bartosz added three hits, while Keene and Chris Keever finished with two hits each.
Brady Jones earned the victory in relief of starter Nick Torres who locked horns with Woodstock's Jared Staples in a pitching matchup that seemed more suited for the big leages.
The loss spoiled excellent performances from Woodstock hitters Caleb Bartolero, Justin Bailey and Nolan Tressler who finished with two hits apiece.
In Game 1, Etowah scored a run in the first inning on Jackson Sisk's RBI single off Woodstock ace Brant Hurter to give the Eagles the lead for good. They added two more in the fifth to take a commanding 3-0 advantage.
Nolan Tressler's RBI single in the fifth accounted for the Wolverines' only run.