ROCKMART — The playlist has been on repeat for the Rockmart baseball team for the last three weeks, and the Jacket faithful are hoping to hear that familiar closing song one more time.
For the third time in a row in the Class AA state playoffs, the Yellow Jackets forced a Game 3 on Tuesday after splitting a doubleheader against Callaway in the Final Four series in Rockmart.
The home team dropped the opener 5-4 after a late-game comeback fell short before Ty Floyd — the ace pitcher that has carved a path to victory for Rockmart time and again this season — threw a no-hitter in Game 2 to lead the Jackets to a 4-0 win.
The decisive Game 3 of the series is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday in Rockmart.
Like the last two times, Rockmart is expected to put Griffin Pace on the mound in the final contest on the Jackets’ home field this season. Pace has been a big part of Rockmart’s Game 3 wins in both the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.
The winner of Wednesday’s do-or-die game will advance to the Class AA state championship series next week in Macon.
Floyd has been nearly lights out in the postseason, striking out 16 and throwing a one-hitter in Game 2 against Harlem last week and a no-no while whiffing 13 batters in Game 2 against Elbert County the week before.
On Tuesday, the junior faced one more than the minimum in the seven-inning contest and struck out 18. He retired 13 batters in a row, which ended with a throwout from third to first in the fifth inning, and had a perfect game going into the bottom of the seventh when Callaway’s Wesley Marchman drew a walk.
Rockmart (27-9) had a 2-0 lead when Brayden Cole hit a solo home run in the fifth that ultimately put the game out of reach for the visiting Cavaliers. Reed Couch and Dylan Bailey each had two hits and an RBI while the Jackets had seven hits total in the nightcap.
Despite a 3-0 lead late into Game 1, Rockmart took a 5-4 loss just like the opener of their last two playoff series. Cole gave up six hits and three runs as Callaway tied the game in the top of the fifth. He finished with three strikeouts.
Shelton finished the game and kept their bats quiet in the sixth and seventh.
The Jackets scored off a fielder's choice from Couch that Sam Sanders beat out at home and fielding errors gave Jonathan Suppes an RBI double that put the Jackets up 2-0, and then Cooper Yanzetich added a run to the board in the bottom of the fourth on a single.
Rockmart got in trouble after the Cavaliers tied it up in the top of the fifth. Logan Shelton came on to finish and found the Rockmart defense struggling at the wrong time. Callaway put on a tie-breaking run on a 2-out single and then another scored when the Jackets threw wild to get the ball into play for a final out to close the inning.
The Jackets attempted a comeback when Floyd hit into what should have been ruled a double play to end the game but came up as only a single. Rockmart was able to tack on a run on a Reed Couch RBI single, but Suppes hit an infield fly to end the game.