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Sonoraville Phoenix infielder Easton Childs takes a big healthy cut at a pitch during a recent win as his teammates look on from the dugout.

With their seasons on the line, the Sonoraville and Pike County baseball teams met in the GHSA 3A playoffs for a third time in about 24 hours Thursday afternoon to determine their hotly-contested best-of-three series.

The winner-take-all, third and deciding game came about after the teams split the first two games of their second-round playoff match Wednesday afternoon in Zebulon.

The 1-1 series tie forced the combatants back to the field on Thursday with the winner of that game moving on to the Elite Eight round next week. (Details of that third game were not available at press time).

The Phoenix looked like they might have a chance to get the two-game sweep after defeating the Warriors, 3-1, in Game One of the series behind another pitching gem from senior Trevor Childers.

But for the first time in a while, the Phoenix struggled at the plate in Game Two and fell 5-0 to have their 10-game winning streak come to an end and also even up the series.

The Firebirds have been just that — red hot — at the plate over the last month or so and had scored a total of 88 runs during that 10-game streak.

But they couldn’t string anything together at the plate while Pike County had a couple of different innings where they did all their damage offensively to get back into the best-of-three.

It has been one of Sonoraville’s finest baseball seasons ever as they had 23 wins entering the game, which is a single-season school record they are hoping to get the chance to continue building on.

They also have a young team that has been fearless and resilient all year, so while they were obviously thinking sweep for a while, they were anxious to play on Thursday because head coach Deron Walraven has several mantra’s for his team and one of them is, “we just get on the bus and show up and play. We’ve been road warriors all year as far as we’ve played well on the road. And we’ve won some big games on the road. We clinched our playoff spot on the road and we’ve beaten good teams in their park, so whether it’s a Region game or Game Three in a playoff series, we’re going to get on the bus and go play. That’s the type of mentality we have and that’s the mindset you have to have right now.”

For the Phoenix, they are moving into the 4A division this year and are in their final days of being a member of Region 6-3A. But by playing in Thursday’s Game Three against Pike County, they were the last 6-3A ballclub still standing after Ringgold was swept on Wednesday in the Tigers’ playoff series.

Rockmart, who is also vacating the 6-3A to play in the 2A division next year, was the Region champ and the top seed going into the playoffs, but the Yellow Jackets were stunned by Stephens County, the fourth seed out of Region 8 in the first-round last weekend, losing 7-3 and 5-0 to make the Jackets’ playoff stay a brief one.

Ringgold, which had won the Region title five straight years before this spring, came in as the two seed and the Tigers, like the Phoenix, were first-round winners to keep playing.

They swept Hart County, 6-3, and 4-2, to win that opening series, but they were eliminated Wednesday by a free-swinging Harlem team, losing Game One 7-3 and then going down 10-4 in the second game.

Sonoraville was the third seed out of the 6-3A and Coahulla Creek was fourth. The Colts also were knocked out in the first round, falling 12-0 in Game One before losing 4-2 in Game Two to Franklin County.

The winner of the Sonoraville-Pike County series will take on the winner of the Long County-GAC series next week in the Elite Eight.

That series was also playing a winner-take-all third game in their best-of-three at the same time that Sonoraville was playing after they split the first two ballgames.

The GAC won the first game, 5-2, but then Long County took the second game, 5-1 drawing to leave them even at one game apiece.

For the rubber match in Zebulon Thursday, Sonoraville went into the game with a 23-8 record and Pike County was looking for its 30th win with a 29-3 mark.

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