POWDER SPRINGS — Hillgrove completed a three-game series sweep against archrival McEachern with a 5-2 road win Friday.
The Hawks (14-4, 6-0) won the first game 6-4 on Wednesday and secured the series with a 15-5 victory Thursday.
“Outside of the first inning, I thought we played excellent defensively,” Hillgrove coach David Richardson said. “Those are two constants you have to have — pitching and defense — to be competitive.”
Max DeJong led Hillgrove on the mound with nine strikeouts through five innings. Fred Wilson relieved DeJong in the sixth, ending the night with three strikeouts and no hits.
“We played good defense behind our pitching,” Richardson said, “but we’ve got to do a better job of hitting.”
The game remained tied until the top of the fifth when Hillgrove’s Ethan Wright hit a two-run home run, followed by an inside-the-park homer by Trooper Vining.
Wright ended the night with two RBIs, as did Justin Tew and Reid Brown, while Vining added one RBI.
“It’s always good to play a quality opponent like them and see where we are and what we need to get better at,” McEachern coach Karlton Schilling said. “We’re always trying to beat the guys across the way.”
McEachern (7-9, 2-4) gained an early 2-1 lead with a bases-loaded walk that scored Isaiah Lee and a sacrifice fly by D.J. Banks that scored Victor Scott. Malik Evans and Banks both ended the night with one RBI.
Hillgrove added its tying run in the third inning with Tew’s single scoring Brown.
Following the early three runs in the fifth inning, McEachern relieved Scott, who ended the night with three strikeouts through four innings. Kyenan Pascoe saw limited time on the mound after Scott, but it was Jhayden Poole who closed out the game for the Indians.
“As we build depth (pitching), we’ll probably improve overall,” Schilling said. “They’re pretty good about going back and forth. They’re working on being tougher.”
Poole finished with three strikeouts through 2 1/3 innings.
Schilling is familiar with Richardson’s coaching style, as he played for him during his time as an assistant under longtime McEachern coach David Joiner.
“They’re great young men, and they do a fantastic job with the program,” Richardson said of Schilling and Zach Sparks, the Indians’ pitching coach, who also played for Richardson. “I wish them all the luck, except the three games we get to play against each other.”