ROCKMART — It took three games to decide the Rockmart baseball team’s fate in the Sweet 16, and late Wednesday night the Yellow Jackets were hoping their time in the Elite Eight would turnout the same.
Rockmart failed to string together enough hits late to post a come back in their 8-5 loss to Harlem in Game 1 of the quarterfinal round in Rockmart.
The Game 1 loss was followed up by a Game 2 of the doubleheader that was still ongoing Wednesday at press time with the Jackets leading 4-0 in the bottom of the fifth.
Harlem took a 4-0 lead in Game 1 off a pair of two-run doubles when facing Rockmart starting pitcher Johnathan Suppes, who was pulled from the game during the top of the third. Luke Queen stepped in to close the inning with a trio of strikeouts.
Queen struck out two more batters in the top of the fourth before a missed fly ball setup an RBI double for the Bulldogs to make it 5-0.
Rockmart got on the board and began to fight back in the bottom of the fifth with a rally started by a base hit from Andruw Morris, followed up by a CJ Culver base hit. A two-run fielder’s choice put up by Brayden Cole and a two-run double by Ty Floyd cut into the Bulldogs’ deficit, making it 6-4.
Another two-run double by Harlem in the sixth gave the visitors a four-run advantage and ultimately put the game out of reach for the Jackets.
Rockmart added a run in the bottom of the sixth on a RBI single from Dylan Bailey, but Harlem pitching snuffed out the Jackets chances in the seventh.
Queen finished the night with five strikeouts, three hits and two runs given up before he was pulled for Logan Shelton, who struck out two. Floyd had three hits and two RBIs in the opener.
Rockmart took a 3-0 lead in the first inning of Game 2 off a trio of walks and then a two-run base hit from Cole, then followed up by a Reed Couch RBI single.
Floyd kept the Harlem bats quiet through the first four innings and had six strikeouts heading into the bottom of the fourth. The Jackets went up to bat again in the third and a wild pitch from Harlem's Payton Hullman allowed Culver to steal home to make it 4-0.
If Rockmart salvages the split the two teams will meet again Thursday afternoon in Rockmart for the decisive Game 3 of the series.