By Phil Albert
Special to The Daily
North Clayton's baseball team is on a mission.
The Eagles picked up their third straight win in three days Friday with a 5-4 victory over visiting Griffin and in the process, continues to narrow the Region 4-AAAA race.
Justin Brown homered for the third time in the last two days and pitched all seven innings, as the Eagles erased a 3-1 Griffin lead. The Eagles improve to 10-7 overall and 6-5 in region play, just out of reach of a top-four region placing and a state playoff berth.
Only Ola, Griffin, Dutchtown and Alcovy have better region records than the hard-charging Eagles, but coach Doug Henry noted that his Eagles are peaking at the right time.
"We have to win our games, especially those against the teams ahead of us," he said. "This was the toughest game of the week. Our defense continues to be consistent."
Brown's homer in the second inning gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead. He belted a grand slam and a three-run homer in the Eagles' victory Thursday over Mt. Zion.
"I'm seeing the ball better," Brown said, "and getting ahead in the count. I want to (continue to) be in the groove."
Griffin, which lost for only the second time in region play, scored twice in the third inning and once in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead.
But the Eagles countered with three runs in their half of the fourth inning.
Darius Harper, who finished with two of the team's six hits, doubled to lead off the inning. Two outs later, Chip Washington singled, scoring Harper, and then Kahlil Stinson launched a two-run homer to give the Eagles the lead.
Griffin tied the game at 4-4 in the fifth inning, but the Eagles broke the tie in their half of the inning without a hit.
Cedric Singletary was hit by a pitch and moved to third on an error. He then scored on a passed ball. Both Brandon Nicholson and Harper reached base on walks, but two strikeouts ended the inning.
Meanwhile, Brown, who had just two strikeouts on the mound, had good control.
"I kept the ball down," he said. "My curve didn't work well today, so I depended on the fastball."
Despite winning three games in consecutive days, the Eagles will have a long layoff before travelling to Stockbridge next Wednesday. A showdown with Dutchtown next week is also a key contest for the Eagles.
"We've got a lot of momentum right now," Henry added. "We're playing as a team.