The final game of the best-of-three series will be held at 5:55 p.m. today at Hillgrove.
Tyler Graham gave up three earned runs on five hits and struck out nine in six innings to get the victory for Hillgrove (25-7) in the first game. After giving up two first inning home runs, including a two-run blast to Jerad Curry, Graham settled down and allowed only three hits the rest of the way to stifle Mill Creek’s bats.
On the other side of the ledger, Hillgrove used some timely and patient at-bats, and took advantage of several Mill Creek miscues to rally and take the lead in the fourth inning.
Ryan Raper batted 1-for-4 with a solo homer in the third and Graham was 2-for-3 with a RBI to help lead Hillgrove. Max Oberkofler went 1-for-2 with an RBI and scored a run, while Michael Adkins added two hits.
Hillgrove scored twice in the fourth and fifth innings after trailing 3-2 at the end of the third.
“Tyler did an awesome job regrouping after allowing three runs to the first three batters of the game,” Hillgrove coach Dave Richardson said. “Later in the game, we did a great job taking advantage of Mill Creek’s mistakes, we hit the ball well and we played excellent defense. I was really pleased with the way we played that first game.”
Devin Bonin, who batted 2-for-4 with a homer, led off the game with a solo shot for a 1-0 Mill Creek advantage. One batter later, Curry’s two-run blast plated Chandler Boyd for a 3-0 margin, but Graham retired the side to end the threat and Hillgrove responded.
Tyler Weyenberg reached base on an error in the second, allowing Oberkofler to score. Raper’s solo homer in the third then trimmed the deficit to 3-2.
Two Mill Creek errors, a hit batsman and a RBI double from Justin Motley in the fourth helped plate courtesy runner Robert Stewart, who was in Graham, and Motley, giving Hillgrove a 4-3 advantage.
Adkins, Oberkofler and Graham all singled in the fifth, which allowed Adam Perry, who was running for Adkins, and Skillings, who was in for Oberkofler, to add to Hillgrove’s final 6-3 margin.
After falling behind 1-0 off a RBI double from Tucker Ehmig in the first inning, Mill Creek (25-7) responded with six hits and scored four runs with two outs in the bottom of the third to take the lead in the nightcap and never looked back.
Bonin, Connor Kasten, Aryan Rodriguez and Nick Tillman all scored in the third, which saw Mill Creek bat through the order to take a 4-1 advantage.
Curry’s two-run homer in the fourth gave Mill Creek a strong 6-1 advantage, but behind an RBI ground-rule double from Adkins and a three-run homer from Ehmig, Hillgrove trailed 6-5 entering its final two innings.
However, Mill Creek added two insurance runs in the fifth inning and held on for the 8-5 win.
“Give credit to Mill Creek,” Richardson said. “They hit (Hillgrove starter Ben Lumsden) unlike I’ve seen any team hit against him. Their backs were against the wall and they responded. Our guys didn’t quit, though.
“We had some opportunities late where we didn’t get a hit when we needed to. It was a good first two games for both schools. Both sides will compete (today) and be ready to play.”
Bonin was 2-for-3 with an RBI and scored twice to pace Mill Creek, while Rodriguez batted 4-for-4, Casey Parham 3-for-4 and Tim Hernandez 3-for-3.
Baguley batted 3-for-4 with two runs scored to lead Hillgrove. Adkins had two hits and an RBI, while Ehmig batted 2-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs. Justin Motley also had two hits.