Playoff baseball can be wild.
East Paulding and Veterans just about took that to the extreme on Wednesday.
The first team to bat in each game of their GHSA Class 5A series scored a few runs in the top of the first, and the team hitting second in both games batted around.
Veterans watched a 12-2 first-inning lead turn into a 12-11 win in the first game. East Paulding led the second game 13-6 after two innings and made it stand for a 16-6 win in five innings.
They will decide the series at 4 p.m. on Friday at Veterans.
The first game set the tone of the offensive day.
East Paulding scored two in the top of the first of the opener, but Veterans answered with 12 runs in the bottom half, the first inning taking a little more than an hour.
The Warhawks did the damage on eight hits, with East Paulding committing only an error but giving up five walks in the inning.
Jacob Giles and Leyton Pinckney each had two hits in the first for the Warhawks.
And then Veterans bats went silent while East Paulding crept back in, with two in the third and five in the fourth to pull within 12-9.
The Warhawks managed only three hits the rest of the way and almost paid for it.
East Paulding got a run in the top of the seventh on a walk, fielder’s choice and throwing error. Then a fly went to deep center to Derek Wylie, who dropped the ball in transferring it from his glove to throwing hand.
It was initially ruled an error, and a run scored with runners then on second and third with one out. After a conference, umpires ruled it an out, bringing an extensive disagreement from head coach Tony Boyd.
A single followed to bring in another run, but catcher Jaydin Chance pegged out a runner at second to end the game.
The nightcap started off as an oddly similar rerun, with Veterans, as the visitor, scoring three runs. But Wylie, now pitching, left the game after two batters after feeling something in his shoulder. He’ll be examined Thursday.
The Raiders scored eight in the first and five in the second against two pitchers.
The Warhawks (25-9) didn’t help themselves in the field with three errors in the first two innings.
Veterans’ pitching, keyed by a nice stint by Jack Waldrop in his second outing of the day, settled down with shutout innings in the third and fourth, but East Paulding starter Will Prater remained pretty much in control of the Warhawks’ bats while going 3-for-3 at the plate from the leadoff spot.
The Raiders (18-14) then ended it with three runs in the fifth.
Three who mattered
Waldrop: The senior turned in needed innings in both games, his performance in the second game — even in a mercy-rule loss — of more impact with the injury to Derek Wylie. His effort will help save some arms for the finale.
Alex Prosser: The East Paulding outfielder drove in six runs in the first game and scored a run in the second.
Gabe Holt: The Texas Tech-bound shortstop had a few defensive issues in the second game, but also had three hits and two runs, to go with a hit and two runs in the first game. He reached base six times in the doubleheader.
They said it
Veterans head coach David Coffey on Wylie’s second-game early departure from the mound: “He didn’t have any kind of nagging injury. He said he threw a pitch and he felt a discomfort. As a precaution, we went ahead and pulled him.”
Coffey on the odd offensive barrage for both teams: “An ugly lineup card. ... We kenw it would be offensive, because both teams swing the bat well. I don’t think we disappointed anybody.”
Coffey on the Warhawks’ roller coaster of a day: “I didn’t fuss at the guys, but I talked to the guys after the first game. I applauded the effort coming out of the game, swinging the bats well, doing the small things. Then I felt we like we got a little complacent. Game two, we did the same thing.”
Coffey on Friday’s matchup, with Mercer-bound Pinckney on the mound: “Leyton’s Leyton. He can pitch against anybody in the state. He has that kind of stuff.”
The series finale is at 4 p.m. on Friday at Veterans.