Lee County moves into Class 6A finals

Posted 5/26/17

Lee County pitcher Josh Hatcher allowed just two hits Friday in a Game 3 semifinal victory

over Johns Creek. (File Photo)


LEESBURG — Josh Hatcher plans to play on a bigger stage next season when he attends Mississippi State.
But for the Lee County senior, the stage was big Friday afternoon in Game 3 of the Georgia High School Association Class 6A state semifinals.
Hatcher hurled a two-hit shutout and got plenty of offensive support to help the Trojans defeat Johns Creek 8-0 and return to the state championship series for the first time since 2005. They will meet Pope Monday in the best-of-three series that begins with an 11 a.m. doubleheader at State Mutual Stadium in Rome.
Lee County finally put an end to a strange series and a weird turn of events.
In Game 2 of the semifinal series on May 17, the Trojans scored two runs in an extra inning after an umpire’s decision erased Johns Creek’s apparent winning run in the bottom of the final regulation inning. Lee had won the first game of the series 7-4.
At issue was a runner on second base who did not touch third, leading the umpires to negate Johns Creek’s fourth run according to The Albany Herald.
Johns Creek appealed the game’s outcome to the Georgia High School Association’s executive director, who said the game should stand with Lee winning 5-3, and then to the GHSA Appeals Board, which denied Johns Creek’s appeal in a 3-1 vote last Friday. Johns Creek appealed that denial to the GHSA’s Board of Trustees, which overtuned the decision 5-2 on Monday.
The decision reverted the score to 4-3, with Johns Creek awarded the win, tying the best-of-three series at 1-1.
The decisive Game 3 was originally scheduled for Wednesday before heavy rains made the field unplayable. It was rescheduled for Friday.
But on Friday when the game was finally played, Hatcher and Johns Creek's Jared Mihalik locked up in a pitcher's duel in the first four innings. The Trojans broke through with an impressive seven-run fifth inning to take a commanding lead.
Lee loaded the bases, then used a Hatcher RBI single, followed by Garrett Suiter's double that scored two. Brenton Phillips' RBI single made it 4-0.
Malik Spratling's double scored two more and he later scored on an error to make it 7-0.
The Trojans added another run in the top of the sixth, then left things up to Hatcher who finished with seven strikeouts and walked two in a near-flawless performance.
“I just had the same mindset going in, just hit my spots, work off-speed and don’t let them beat me offensively,” Hatcher told The Albany Herald.
After a weird week, Lee County is grateful to move on. If a third game is needed, it would be played Tuesday at Mercer University in Macon.

Editor's Note: Excerpts from The Albany Herald were used in this article.