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Prep baseball: Flowery Branch goes to game three
Flowery Branch High’s Patrick Henry shut down the Riverwood High offense during game one of the Falcons’ state playoffs round one game one victory over Riverwood High at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex.


Listen to Flowery Branch coach Jimmy Lawler talk about Friday's split with Riverwood.
FLOWERY BRANCH — Mason Roberts doesn’t mind the pressure.

He fully understands the fate of Flowery Branch’s season rests partly in his hands as the starter of today’s deciding Game 3 against Riverwood in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs.

The series hinges on the third game after a split of Friday’s doubleheader. Class AAA’s No. 1-ranked Falcons (25-3) won the first in three innings, 15-0, and the Raiders (18-9) avoided the sweep with a win in Game 2, 9-4, at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex.

With Flowery Branch leading 4-2 lead late in the second game, the Raiders scored seven runs with two outs in the sixth inning to keep the outcome of the series in limbo.

Still, Roberts (3-0) likes Flowery Branch’s chances to advance to the second round.

“Losing Game 2 like we did is just going to fire us up,” Roberts said. “We have nine seniors on this team that don’t want to end their careers going out like that.”

Roberts has pitched in big games in his career before, most notably Game 2 against Cartersville last season in the first round of the playoffs. The Falcons are still looking to advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in school history.

“I feel good about Mason pitching (today) for us,” Flowery Branch coach Jimmy Lawler said. “He’s thrown the ball well for us all season.”

Riverwood’s starter today is senior left-hander Scott Sternstein. He’s 5-1 this season, and consistently keeps the ball low in the strike zone, Riverwood coach Mike Santoro said.

“He’s a hard worker on the mound,” Santoro said. “He’s one of our guys that has experience in these situations.”

Riverwood took control of the second game in the sixth inning against Flowery Branch’s winner from Game 1 Patrick Henry. The Falcons right-handed ace only faced 10 batters and allowed one hit in the mercy-rule shortened first game.

Lawler says Game 2 starter Cody Ackerman was “out of gas” in the fifth inning and felt confident that Henry’s low pitch count would allow him to continue to pitch effectively.

Trailing 4-2, Evan Douglas and Kevin Driscoll drew two-out walks to load the bases for the Raiders in the sixth inning. Sammy Altman delivered a single to score the tying run. Michael Abrahams and Pace
Fegley added doubles that drove in three more runs, and between the doubles Riverwood’s Charlie Hollman connected on a two-run home run to help cap the seven run inning.

“I think our team got embarrassed in the first game and was totally overmatched,” Santoro said. “That’s not how we normally play.

“In the second game the hitting just got contagious and that’s a testament to how our kids play.”
The first game was quite the opposite. It was Flowery Branch with the hot bats in a game that only lasted 45 minutes.

The Falcons were not fooled at the plate sending 15 to bat and scoring 11 runs with two outs in the second inning. Danny Price started the rally for Flowery Branch with a walk and scored on an RBI double by Henry.

Jordan Miller, a sophomore, had the big hit during the inning with a three-run home run. He finished the first game with four RBIs. Brad Stone, Price, Henry, Greg Palmer and Travis Coxworth each finished with two hits in the series opener for Flowery Branch.

Palmer led Flowery Branch at the plate during Friday’s doubleheader with a combined 5-for-6, scoring three runs and also drawing a walk. Rackley finished the day 4-for-5 with three runs scored. Henry had three doubles with a pair of RBIs.

“The bottom line is that we played good in the first game and didn’t in the second game,” Lawler said.
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