Harlem is a state champion for the eighth time in its history after the Bulldogs swept Ringgold 5-3, 2-1 in the 3A championship series at Advent Health Stadium in Rome while denying the Tigers’ bid for its first title.
In the deciding game, a sacrifice fly-ball from sophomore Will Holder proved to be the difference, as it put Harlem up 2-1 to secure the championship for the Bulldogs and complete the come-from-behind victory. Ringgold took the 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on an RBI from Cade Tankersley on a deep fly to right field. Harlem got on the board after senior Tryston McCladdie, a Clemson commit, hit a game-tying homerun in the bottom of the fourth inning.
In the opening game, Harlem scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning after trailing 3-2 and pitcher Amerson Guy held Ringgold scoreless in the bottom of the frame to secure the victory. Harlem scored a run in the top of the first inning and Ringgold matched a run in the bottom of the inning to tie the game.
Harlem took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning before the Tigers scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 3-2 lead. Junior Shane Wheeless was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and sophomore Will Holder went 2-for-3 with one RBI. McCladdie went 3-for-4 from the plate. Junior Caiden Cole pitched 4.2 innings, allowed six hits with three runs and four strikeouts.
Harlem won its state championships in a 12-year span --1974, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1986 – but the program had not pushed through since.
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