CUMMING, Ga. — Milton baseball has regained its status of region champs for the first time since 2014 after the Eagles earned a decisive victory over Forsyth Central Thursday in the de facto Region 5-AAAAAAA championship game.
“We talked with the kids before the game and just laid it out on the line,” Milton head coach Jeff Heusing said. “We said this is our first opportunity to win a region championship since 2014, the first time for the team to win 20 games since 2013 and the first time for these guys to experience hosting a playoff game. We had a lot of goals, laid them out and said here is our opportunity. It was a decisive victory and just an overall good night for our kids, coaches, the community and the school.”
With the opportunity to seize the moment, the Eagles used a tenacious performance to blast the Bulldogs for 15 hits while three Milton pitchers combined to allow just five hits and one earned run to secure the region title.
“Everything was clicking,” Heusing said. “Coach (Dustin) Rennspies had our guys hitting on all cylinders and most of them had multiple hits. With pitching, Central is playing some really good baseball and they have some aggressive hitters, but we kept them off balance all night and kept them guessing.”
Milton’s offense got a bit of help early with Central starting pitcher Ryan Gamble hitting a batter and throwing a walk in the top of the first to set up an RBI single from Graham Pauley. However, the Eagles needed no help after the first to plate runs.
Curt McDonell and Jack Rhodes hit solo home runs in the second inning, followed but a Kristian Campbell RBI single and a run scored on Central throwing error.
Central cut the lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the third with an AJ Fiechter home run and Greg Tasos RBI single, but it was the last of the Bulldogs’ offensive threat in the contest. Central added just one more hit in the contest against Milton’s strong performances on the mound.
Starter Tyler McLoughlin went 3.1 innings allowing four hits and one earned run with four strikeouts. Brandon Concevitch came in relief allowing one hit and one walk in 1.2 innings. Cole Stupp finished the last two innings without allowing a hit and adding two strikeouts.
The Eagles compiled six hits in the sixth inning to extend their lead to 10-2 and a Mitch Landon RBI single in the seventh stretched the margin to nine runs.
All nine of Milton’s batters earned a hit in the win with eight batters driving in a run.
“For the kids to execute and play as hard as they did to secure that victory says a lot about our kids,” Heusing said. “Winning the region championship is huge, and it’s something that started before the end of last year when we brought in each kid individually and told them what needed to change and our plan. They bought in and we have been working and grinding ever since then.”
Milton’s region title is their first since winning five straight from 2010-14. With the No. 1 seed from the Region 5, Milton will host Region 8 No. 4 seed Rockdale County in the first round of the state playoffs next week.
“I told the guys after the game if they thought this was fun, wait until we host a playoff game,” Heusing said. “The fun is just beginning.”