Carrollton (19-12) — which played in the state semifinals in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 — rallied on an RBI single by junior Chris Hicks in the top of the seventh inning to advance to a state quarterfinal-round series next week against No. 2-state ranked Gainesville (27-0). The single through the hole at third, scored sophomore Wil Garrett who reached on a leadoff single down the right field line two batters earlier.
It capped a comeback that started an inning earlier when the Trojans sophomore Andrew Turner hit a sacrifice fly to score Drew Dickey and sophomore Sam Turner hit a double to score Davis Marlar to tie the game. Dickey and Marlar singled and doubled, respectively with one out on back-to-back plays to set the table.
Spalding (22-9) broke a scoreless tie on Matt Hayes' sacrifice fly to center field in the bottom of the fourth — to score the first run off Hicks, who started Game 3, this season. The shot scored Casey Moody who reached on a leadoff double two batters earlier and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Robert Green. An inning later the Jags upped their lead when Powell Krepps reached on a leadoff single and advanced on a sacrifice by Chase Pruitt before scoring on an a grounder by Anson Link that was errored on to stake SHS to a 2-0 lead heading into the sixth.
Of course, high drama was the order of the day in a series where Spalding led early in Game 1 before having to rally in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings where it won on Parker Powell's bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the eighth. Then came Game 2 where Spalding led 6-2 in the fourth only to watch the Trojans score twice in the bottom of the fourth and push across three in the sixth to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and force Game 3.
So it came as no surprise Spalding had one more spark left up its sleeve heading into the bottom of the seventh in Game 3 where it looked dismal for the home team when Marlar came on in relief to start the inning and promptly fanned the first two batters he faced. Then Spalding, as it has done throughout the playoffs, found one more spark of life as Pruitt drew a walk and Link was struck by a pitch before Michael Martin walked to load the bases. Marlar, however, struck out the final out of the inning to end the game with Moody, Spalding's most potent hitter ever, on deck.
Cody Douglas started and went the distance for Spalding, tossing a seven-hitter while fanning three and allowing three runs to lead the Jags atop the mound.
It marked the third time in the last four seasons Spalding — which was a state finalist last year — was eliminated from postseason play in the second round of the state playoffs.