The Saints won going away, and coming from behind, in the Pool Q contests, blanking the Richmond Braves' 2011 squad 8-0 in five innings in Game 1, then rallying from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the East Cobb Rangers 5-3 in the nightcap.
The first game was the one that mattered the most, pitting two teams entering with identical 3-0 pool-play records.
The Saints' Keith Pachmayer, a rising North Cobb junior, pitched a gem in giving the Braves their first loss and clinching the pool championship for his team. Pachmayer threw a complete-game two-hitter, striking out four in five innings. He allowed a runner to reach third base in three different innings, but each time, he managed to work his way out of the jam and preserve the shutout.
"I just tried to keep my pitches in the zone, and as the game progressed, I felt like I was getting stronger and stronger," Pachmayer said. "My defense worked really hard behind me, so they get a lot of the credit. Offensively, these guys gave me a lot of run support so I was able to relax and do my job."
The Saints (5-0) scored at least one run in each inning, capped by three runs in the bottom of the fifth to invoke the eight-run mercy rule against the Braves (3-1-1), who entered the game having outscored their opponents 18-1.
The Saints will face another one of the East Cobb programs, the Pool R-winning Indians, for a 2 p.m. first pitch today in the first round of the playoffs. The winner advances to a 7 p.m. second-round game.
Kell's Chris Gowder, who walked twice, scored twice and had two RBIs, led off the game for the Saints with a walk and scored on a double from Sprayberry's Chas Pate. Pate later scored on Bo Edwards' one-out double for a 2-0 lead.
Kell's Austin Petrik, who was 1-for-3 with a stolen base and scored twice, led off the second with a single and scored on Gowder's sacrifice fly.
Corey Collum doubled to start the third. Jos Oria, pinch-running for Collum, came home on Landon Hightower's two-out single for a 4-0 Saints lead.
Two errors in the fourth allowed Gowder to score.
The contest was called in the fifth as six batters came to the plate and three runs scored. Kell's Brian Davis led off the inning with a single before Hightower was hit by a pitch and Petrik reached on an error to load the bases. Davis then scored from third on a fielder's choice when the Braves' catcher didn't cover home on an attempted force play.
Sprayberry's Ricky Schattauer singled home Walton's Tommy Lutz, who was pinch-running for Hightower. With the bases loaded and no outs, Gowder was hit by a pitch to force in Petrik to invoke the mercy rule.
"We have a really good offensive and defensive team and our pitching is solid," Saints coach Greg Bal said. "Pachmayer pitched a good game, and he's been an excellent addition for us."
In Game 2, the Saints' offense couldn't find a way past Rangers starter Dustin Beggs, who struck out six and allowed only one hit in 5 2/3 innings of work. But Beggs left with a 2-0 lead and one out remaining in the sixth to prevent his arm from getting sore, and the Saints took advantage.
Following Beggs' departure, Schattauer singled and moved to second when Collin Robinson was hit by a pitch. Both players advanced on a wild pitch and Pate walked to load the bases. Hightower's RBI single plated Schattauer to trim the Rangers' lead to 2-1. Edwards' single scored Robinson and Pate to put the Saints on top 3-2.
Petrik and North Cobb's Matt Fryman, who was 1-for-3 with two stolen bases and an RBI, came around to score in the seventh for the final 5-2 win.
Joey Grasso and Sprayberry's Nick Head combined to allow one hit and one walk while striking out three in 5 2/3 innings of relief to keep the Saints in the contest.
"It's a phenomenal team that knows how to play together," Bal said. "Overall, I look for us to go far in the tournament."