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Tyler Bak

WOODSTOCK — Tyler Bak hit a walk-off home run to lift North Gwinnett to a 4-3 victory in Game 2 of the Class AAAAAAA state baseball quarterfinals Monday at Etowah.

North Gwinnett fell 8-2 in Game 1 and the game was tied 3-all in the bottom of the seventh inning when Bak hit a solo home run to send the series to a third game.

The deciding game in the best-of-three series is at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Etowah.

"Honestly it's hard to find words for," North Gwinnett head coach Ryan Moity said of Bak's game-winning home run. "Tyler's has been a fantastic bat for us all season; he's put up numbers all season. He's a guy that we trust in that spot. Honestly, with one out I just wanted him on base. He battled, he had a tough night; he knew the only at-bat that mattered in that situation was the one he had. He was going to find a way on and he got a pitch he could drive and he did it."

Etowah jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of Game 2 but with two runners on base, North Gwinnett turned a double play to end the inning.

North Gwinnett starting pitcher Josh Close allowed three hits and a walk in the first inning but settled in after that. He ended the game with seven strikeouts while allowing two walks.

"Josh did an amazing job," Moity said "He missed a couple spots in the first inning. That's a great hitting team and they made him pay. But he settled in and he pitched an absolute gem in the second through seventh inning."

In the second inning, Koa Kloehs hit a solo home run to cut the lead to 2-1.

In the third, Bak led off with a walk and one batter later, Erik Parker singled to drive in Bak, tying the game at 2-all.

In the top of the fifth, Etowah scored to take a 3-2 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth, Gavin Zoeller led off with a double and with two outs, Ryan Hall reached base on an error to score courtesy runner Jake Gaskill to tie the game at 3-all.

"This is a group of grinders and they always find a way," Moity said of his team's effort in Game 2. "Nobody expected us to be here right now and their fight and their never-give-up and their mentality is why we have a chance to play a Game 3 tomorrow. They did a heck of a job the entire game competing, just finding a way, they battled and here we are."

In Game 1, North Gwinnett took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Hall grounded out to score Mack Cromer.

In the bottom of the second, Etowah scored a run to tie the game at 1-all.

In the top of the third, Eli Pitts led off with a solo home run to give North Gwinnett a 2-1 lead.

Etowah scored four runs in the third, one in the fourth and two in the sixth to take the 8-2 victory.

North Gwinnett beat Denmark in the first round of the state playoffs and Campbell in the second round.

"It's going well," Moity said of how his team is doing so far in the state tournament. "The reality is we've had great practices going into each series. And I felt like we were well-prepared in each of those series and then the kids came out and played hard and executed. We've been playing really good defense and our starting pitching's been really good. We've had some timely hits in the first two series. This group plays for one another; they never give up and they just grind. It’s a dirtball group; faced adversity all season and when they face adversity, when their backs are against the wall, it seems to bring out the best of them."

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