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Advantage Deerfield

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

MACON -- Deerfield-Windsor has had all kinds of trouble beating Tattnall Square in the GISA Class AAA baseball playoffs recently.

But Friday, DWS pitcher Chris Moates made it look easy.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander pitched a complete game to lead the Knights to a 5-1 victory at Macon in Game 1 of the best-of-three Final Four series.

"That was a tremendous effort by Moates," DWS coach Rod Murray said. "He pitched ahead in most of the counts, he pitched to contact and we made the plays behind him. All of the little things that baseball coaches talk about -- (Friday) we did most of them right."

DWS can close out Tattnall today in Game 2 at 2 p.m.

Moates, who now has a record of 7-3 on the mound, scattered five hits and struck out seven in his seven innings of work. The only run he allowed came with two outs in the final inning.

"Everything (about Moates gave us trouble)," Tattnall coach Joey Hiller said. "He threw the ball extremely well. He was in-and-out, up-and-down and changing speeds. He did a really good job."

The senior pitcher said he stepped on the mound in the first inning with confidence, which he gained from a pre-pitch routine he and his dad have been working on.

"Before each pitch, I would stand on the mound and visualize (the ball) going right to the mitt, and fortunately it did most of the time," Moates said.

The Knights were led at the plate by second baseman Harris Webb, who finished the game 1-for-2 with three RBI. His one-out sacrifice fly in the second inning gave DWS a 2-0 lead, and his two-run double in the sixth inning gave the Knights the cushion they needed.

"It's tremendous for him to get going, but Harris can hit with some power, too," Murray said. "He has driven in some big runs this year."

Michael Laslie led off the top of the second inning with a single and was driven home by a Matt Moree one-out double. Moree later scored on Webb's sacrifice fly, giving the Knights an early 2-0 advantage.

At that point, Moates said he and his teammates were brimming with excitement.

"Ever since the second inning when we scored two, the dugout was electric," Moates said. "And nobody was going to stop us then."

Nobody was going to stop Moates, either.

He made quick work of the Trojans in the bottom of the second inning, striking out two and getting the third batter to ground out to shortstop. Moates got out of a bases-loaded jam in the third and rolled an inning-ending double play in the fourth.

And then Moates started to really bring the heat.

"The first few innings, I really tried to pace myself," he said. "Whenever I realized I had enough in the tank to go all the way, I started throwing harder."

With Moates cruising on the mound, the Knights broke things open on the offensive side in the sixth inning. Laslie and Gil Gillespie singled and Moree walked to load the bases for Webb, who then hit a line drive to left-center field that scored Laslie and Moree.

Lindsey Short finished off the Knights' scoring with a two-out double in the seventh inning that plated Davis Moore.

Tattnall starter Ryan Mosley threw five innings before being relieved by Gahrett Gaylord. Hiller said either Conner Alford or Grant Nicholson will start Game 2 today at Tattnall, while Rhett Cooper -- who pitched a one-hitter to close out Arlington Christian in Game 2 last week in the Elite 8 -- will get the start for DWS.

Deerfield has lost to Tattnall in the postseason three straight years, including 2009 when the Knights won Game 1 before Tattnall came back to win the next two. Hiller said the 2009 series should give the Trojans, who won state titles in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2008 and 2009, some confidence heading into today's do-or-die.

"(DWS) had the momentum in 2009 when they won Game 1, and we beat them then," Hiller said. "Hopefully we will come out fresh (today) with a better attitude and get the job done."

A Tattnall win this afternoon will force a winner-take-all Game 3 immediately after Game 2.

"We understand that this is a three-game series," Murray said. "We are going to enjoy (Game 1) for a little bit, and then go home and get some rest and come back and battle (today)."