Leyton Pinckney helped himself.
Derek Wylie did likewise.
Pinckney helped himself to a complete-game, three-hitter, in which he struck out seven. He also helped himself at the plate, going 2-4. One of those was a single, one was a double and he also had a sacrifice fly for an RBI.
Wylie on the other hand helped himself to a 1-0 fastball over the heart of the plate. He drove it over the centerfield fence.
Their combined effort, along with that of their Warhawks teammates, equated a 7-1 win over East Paulding in the third and deciding game of their Class AAAAA state playoff series Friday at Veterans.
Pinckney’s first hit came in the first. It was a pitch that came off his bat awkwardly and first made its way through the soft dirt in front of home plate. Then it went to starting pitcher Ty DeLancey but way too late for him to do anything about it – although he still made the throw.
Wylie followed and promptly made it 2-0.
East Paulding scored its lone run in the bottom of the inning. It actually came via a bit of luck/a gift from Veterans. With one out, Pinckney hit a batter. The next hit a grounder back to him. He threw to second, which was covered by shortstop Gabe Holt. Holt in turn threw to first for what the Warhawks thought was a double play. They began to leave the field unaware at first that the umpire had ruled the runner safe at second. By the time they did realize, he was on third. The next hitter guided a grounder between first and second to bring him in.
Both then went mostly quiet until the bottom of the fifth. Jacob Giles got things started with a single. He stole second and moved to third on Holt’s grounder to first. Pinckney then doubled him home. Wylie might have gotten Pinckney – or rather pinch runner Spencer Sebero, who ran for him on all occasions – home but the Raiders chose to intentionally walk him (and the at bat before that). Bryce Brazil was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Korbin Hollensteiner hit a deep ball to left to bring in Sebero.
Veterans then added three insurance runs in the sixth off two relievers. Giles and Holt each had RBI singles during that inning.
The Warhawks will play either Ola or Loganville in the Elite Eight. Those two split their series and were also playing their deciding game Friday – but later than Veterans and East Paulding. If Ola wins the Warhawks will host, seeing as it is a No. 3 seed. If Loganville wins, with both it and Veterans being a No. 1 seed, they will flip a coin.