On a windy night full of errors and walks, No. 2-ranked Milton mustered just enough offense to counter North Forsyth.
The Eagles scored two runs in the top of the seventh and earned a 7-5 victory over the Raiders Tuesday night at Raider Field.
The victory clinched the third consecutive region title for Milton (19-5, 8-2 Region 6-AAAAA), sending the team into a celebratory dogpile in the infield after the game.
“It was an exciting game,” North coach Jim Cahill said. “We left a few guys on base, but [our guys] competed all night. It was good to see they still got a little fight in them.”
The two teams combined for a total of 11 walks and five hit batters.
North (8-16, 5-5) struck first off an infield single by Michael Henderson (2-for-4, RBI) that scored Nick Aiken after Milton third baseman Dalon Farkas overthrew first base on a ground ball.
The Raiders’ lead held until the top of the fourth.
Milton’s Dalton Ewing drew a walk and advanced to third on a single over second base by Lucas Herbert (2-for-4, RBI, R).
Ewing and Herbert later scored on singles by Eric Ferrell (1-for 4, R) and Alex Schnell (1-for-4, R), giving the Eagles a 2-1 lead.
But North responded in the bottom of the frame.
Trevor Sams (2-for-4, R) led off with an infield single and, two batters later, Justin Stanley reach on an infield single of his own.
Sams came around to score off a line-drive single to right field by Bailey Mauldin, and Nick Fernandez beat out an infield single to score Stanley and put North back on top 3-2.
Later in the inning, Herbert sent a wild throw over third base and into left field to score pinch runner Ben Venuto.
Sams pitched four and two-thirds innings for the Raiders.
Milton scored three runs in the top of the fifth, forcing North to turn to relievers Matthew Heard and Hammond Hughes.
In the bottom of the frame, North loaded the bases on Eagles starting pitcher Payton Smith (4 2/3 IP, 7H, 4R, 5K), and tied the game when reliever Graham Officer hit Aiken in the back to force in Sams from third.
A clutch, two-run seventh inning proved to be the difference for the Eagles.
Dylan Cease led off the inning with a single into center field. After advancing to second on a wild pitch, Cease scored off a single by pinch hitter Steven Reale. Reale then stole second and scored on a single into right field by Ryan Gridley.
Despite the defeat, North is still in the playoff picture. A loss last week to Centennial has now been marked a win due to player ineligibility. A victory today at Northview (5:55p.m.) and Friday against Roswell (6 p.m.) would give the Raiders a shot at the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in Region 6-AAAAA.
“Just because we lost [today] doesn’t mean this is the end of the season,” Cahill said. “We’ll just take them one at a time and keep fighting.”