COVINGTON - The home team definitely had the advantage as Alcovy and Harlem split their doubleheader in the first round of the Class AAAA baseball playoffs on Friday at Tiger Field.
The Tigers scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to win the first game 6-5 before the Bulldogs scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh of the second game to tie the best-of-three series with a 13-12 win.
The winner of today's 1 p.m. game will advance to the next level of the playoffs against the winner of the Wayne County/Hardaway game.
"I told them someone is going to win Game 1 and someone is going to win Game 2 if it's a split. The team that wins Game 2 is going to have the momentum, especially after coming back from nine runs down," Alcovy coach Casey Bates said. "But they (Alcovy players) have to understand you're playing at your place. We have to come in (today) and know that (today's) your day."
Despite Alcovy scoring a total of 18 runs in both games, they could have had more if not for leaving the bases loaded three times.
In the first game, the Bulldogs took a 3-1 lead in the top of the third before Taylor Jackson helped tie the game in the home half of the inning.
After plating the runner off a triple, Jackson crossed the plate on a squeeze play.
The Tigers took a 4-3 lead to end the third when Beau Thomas plated Alex Cooper.
Harlem scored two more times to take a 5-4 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
With the bases loaded and two outs, an error plated Austin Fuller and Michael Adventurato for the win.
By all appearances, the Tigers were in a position to sweep the series after taking a 9-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning of the second game.
That was when Harlem's offense came alive.
"It's one of (those) things where they came in and hit the ball. We had some things where late in the game with pitchers. We had four balks and hit three batters. In that situation you have to do your job. You can't let the other team dictate what your going to be doing," Bates said.
"In that second game, once we got a nine-run lead we sat on it. I've told them all year you can't sit on a nine run lead, you have to close the door. We left the door wide open for them."
The Bulldogs closed the gap, scoring six runs in the fifth including a three-run homer by Patrick Gamblin giving Harlem a chance.
Alcovy made it a four-run game in the sixth with a solo shot by Bryan Daniel before Harlem took the lead, scoring five more runs in their at-bat in the sixth.
John Pollard tied the game in the seventh scoring on an error before Cooper made it 12-11 off a Ross Roberts sacrifice grounder.
However, Gamblin was able to put the Bulldogs over the top with a two-run, walk-off single.
"You have to leave your head up the entire game. You can't let one play dictate what you do the rest of the game," Bates said.
Gamblin led all hitters with six hits in the twin bill with Alcovy's Shaun Carter, Cody Bala and Harlem's Derek Beasley getting four hits.
Getting extra-base hits for Alcovy were Daniel (double, home run), Carter (double), Bala (double, home run), Jackson (triple) and Bowen Braswell (home run).