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High school baseball: Falcons end regular season with win
James Wilson, of Flowery Branch, heads for third base during Thursday's game against West Forsyth. - photo by Tom Reed | The Times
FLOWERY BRANCH —The Flowery Branch high baseball team helped clarify the Region 7-AAA playoff picture with a 6-2 win against West Forsyth on Thursday at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex in Flowery Branch.

The Falcons (20-5, 19-5 Region 7-AAA) secured at least the third seed for next week’s playoffs, while the Wolverines clinched the fourth spot.

Flowery Branch can move up to the second seed if Lumpkin County loses today’s game with North Hall.

“Second place or third place, I’m happy we have a chance,” Falcons coach Jimmy Lawler said. “I feel like we have a legitimate chance to go in and win a series or two.”

The win, which came on Flowery Branch’s senior night, was also the Falcons’ 20th of the year, a statistic Lawler was impressed with after losing 10 seniors from last year’s region championship team.

“After graduating all those guys from last year, these guys have stepped up with no varsity experience,” he said. “That says a lot about them, and they have a lot of confidence right now.”

Flowery Branch limited West Forsyth to a season-low two runs, led by junior pitcher James Mills, who pitched a complete game and struck out four for his sixth win of the season.

“I knew he (Lawler) had a lot of trust in me to come in and throw,” Mills said. “I wanted the ball in my hand tonight.”

Mills got help from his offense early in the game, as the Falcons’ scored five runs through the first two innings against Wolverines ace Michael Moch, who lasted only 1 1/3 innings.

James Wilson kick-started the scoring in the first inning with an RBI double that scored Jimmy Fitzgerald. Wilson would score later in the inning off a single by his brother, Jordan Wilson.

The Wilson brothers, Fitzgerald and Mills each finished the night 2-for-3.

“Everybody is seeing the ball pretty well,” Mills said. “We got hits all throughout the lineup.”

The Falcons increased their lead in the second inning when Brad Stone scored on a errant throw to first base, followed by Jimmy Fitzgerald’s solo home run in the next at bat. Bucky Free’s RBI single gave the Falcons a five-run lead through two.

“Moch is a good pitcher, and we had some good hacks off him,” Lawler said. “That set the tone, and that made us feel good.”

The Wolverines scored its only two runs in the fourth inning when Colton Orr scored on a wild pitch, followed by Reese Patten’s RBI single that scored Chris Arnett.

Mills escaped the jam with his glove rather than his arm, making a diving infield catch, then throwing out Patten at second base to complete the double play while still on his knees.

“He made a nice play diving and getting that double play,” Lawler said. “It kind of gave him a second wind.”

Mills allowed only one base runner the rest of the game, pitching three shutout innings and securing the win for Flowery Branch.

“His stuff in the last two innings was just as good as the first two innings,” Lawler said.

The Falcons kept the entire West Forsyth lineup from getting more than one hit and prevented any extra-base hits. Patten finished the night 1-for-2 with an RBI, and Arnett was 1-for-2 with a run.
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