ROME — Jefferson baseball was one game from its first ever state championship on Monday.
The Dragons are still one win away, and on Wednesday they will take one more crack at it this season.
Jefferson split its Class 4A championship doubleheader with Cartersville at Rome's State Mutual Stadium, winning Game 1 5-4 -- only to watch the Purple Hurricanes respond with a 9-3 victory in Game 2 that put the Dragons' celebrations on ice for at least 48 hours.
The two finalists will go back at it on Wednesday in Rome at a time to be determined (depending on the outcome of Tuesday's Class 6A series in Rome) in Game 3.
The Dragons (27-12) would love a repeat of Game 1 -- at the very least the start of it, as Jefferson sprinted to a 4-0 lead in the first inning of their first championship series appearance since 2015.
Lane Watkins and Clayton Jones each produced RBI doubles, while Billy Finch and Mason Cooper also singled home runs for the Dragons to provide a dream beginning. And thanks to the pitching of starter Patrick Hickox and a keyed-in Jefferson defense it was almost enough in itself, as Cartersville remained scoreless through five innings.
Yet Ryan Godfrey's RBI single in the fourth inning ended up making the difference, as the Purple Hurricanes battled back with three runs in the sixth and one more in the seventh before Jefferson clinched the victory.
The Dragons could not muster the same start in Game 2, as Cartersville jumped ahead 1-0 before Sammy Elegreet knotted the score at 1-1 on an RBI. But the Purple Hurricanes regained the lead for good at 3-1 in the the second inning and led by as much as 8-1 in the fourth.
Jefferson will have the day off to rest and focus on Game 3 back in State Mutual Stadium.