Hickory tied its third playoff game with Shelby with two runs in the top of the eighth inning.
A half-inning later, it all unraveled at the seams.
Shelby scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth to come away with a 10-5 victory and a 2-1 series advantage against Post 48.
Hickory (21-10) trailed 4-1 after six complete innings, but would rally starting in the seventh.
Post 48 scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning, including a Ky'rawn Whitfield RBI single. Designated hitter Matt Johnson also scored in the inning on a balk by Shelby pitcher Phillip Black.
Although Shelby would add a run on a Black sacrifice in the bottom half of the seventh, Hickory would tie the game by the top of the eighth.
Aaron Rudisill led the charge to knot the contest at 5-5 with his RBI single, while Zach Jarrett also came across home plate to score on a error.
Hickory's hope of winning the game would be wiped away in the next half-inning on five Shelby hits, a hit batter and a walk.
The most controversial play in the inning came on an attempted bunt by Nick Hastings, who was awarded first base after the ball appeared to hit him in the foot.
Hickory coach Fore Rembert argued with officials on the play and would eventually be ejected from the game.
Post 82 (32-7) scored five runs in the inning, and Post 48 batters were retired in order in the top of the ninth to end the game.
Game four between Hickory and Shelby is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. at the American Legion Fairgrounds.
The winner of the Shelby-Hickory series will meet either Lincoln County or Cherryville in the Area IV final. Lincoln County leads that series, 2-1.