First round playoff notebook
By Tim Morse
Georgia Dugout Preview
Valdosta’s Seth Shuman wasn’t thinking home run. Or even a double.
Down to the final strike, his team trailing by a pair of runs and the bases loaded, Shuman smashed a delivery over the fence for a go-ahead grand slam to send the Wildcats to a 7-5 victory in Game 3 over North Paulding to take the best-of-three series on Saturday.
"You really can't do too much in that situation, all we need is a hit, get one run in and get the next guy up," Shuman told the Valdosta Daily Times. "So, I was just thinking hit it right back up the middle, get one run in and let Luke (Ard) get up and do his thing."
The Wildcats (21-9) advance to meet Region 5 champion Pope in the second round on Wednesday.
ETOWAH SWEEPS PARKVIEW: Defending Class AAAAAA state champion Parkview won’t get a chance to defend its title after Etowah, the No. 3 seed from Region 5, swept the Panthers Friday night. The Eagles won the first game 4-0 as Etowah’s Bryce O’Brien outdueled Parkview ace and Ole Miss signee Will Ethridge.
Then the Eagles needed 10 innings in Game 2 to oust the Panthers 3-2.
Etowah loaded the bases in the 10th and won the game when Bryant Madden was hit in the leg by a pitch to force home the game-winning run.
Etowah was rewarded with a home series in the second round when Hillgrove, the Region 4 champion, was swept by Colquitt County. Because the Eagles are a three-seed and Colquitt is a four-seed, the Packers will travel to play Etowah in the second round.
LEE COUNTY GETS BEST OF SPEAS: A handful of Major League Baseball scouts came to watch McEachern High School baseball pitcher Alex Speas and his 97-mile per hour fastball Friday in the first round of the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAAA state baseball playoffs at Lee County.
But after Josh Hatcher cracked a three-run homer off the flame-throwing right-hander in the first inning of Game 1 and Speas was lifted after just one inning, the scouts had saw all they needed to see.
Lee County staked itself to a four-run advantage in Game 1 and posted a 4-1 victory. Then Garet Morrell hurled a gem in the nightcap as Lee took a 2-1 victory to advance to the second round.
The Trojans will play host to top-ranked Walton, who swept Archer in its first-round series. The best-of-three second series begins Wednesday.
Speas struggled with control on Friday and his fastball wasn’t clocked anywhere near 90 before leaving the mound with a four-run deficit. Speas surrendered a pair of walks to leadoff batter Tyler Simon and Garret Morrell before Hatcher smoked a fastball over the fence in right center field.
“We were taking until he threw a strike and then when he threw that first one down the middle, I knew he was going to take something off the next one,” Hatcher said. “I was looking for the fast ball. I prepared myself all week, watched film on him and I had played against him last summer. I just geared myself up for the fast ball and was determined not to miss it.”
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP REMATCH: It’s a sure bet that Buford coach Tony Wolfe is glad he won’t have to see Whitewater again – at least not this season. After the Wolves swept Whitewater last year to win the Class AAAA title, the Wolves swept the Wildcats on Friday, 9-5 and 5-4. But the second game victory was anything but easy.
With the bases loaded, Buford reliever Austin Wilhite got a 6-4-3 double play in the seventh inning in Game 2 to help the Wolves escape with a 5-4 victory.
“I just really felt like it was going to be a battle,” Buford coach Tony Wolfe told the Gwinnett Daily Post. “When we get together, the three games last year, the two in the state championship and we beat them 1-0 at GGC in the regular season, it’s just always tight. They’re going to compete. There’s some schools out here that might give a little inch to us because of our reputation — they’re not. They’re going to compete. Our hats off to Whitewater. They played hard.”
MADISON COUNTY STUNS TROUP: Playing in the rugged Region 8-AAAA paid off for Madison County, who swept No. 2 Troup on Friday
Madison County, the number four seed from Region 8, swept Troup 6-3 and 3-1.
The Tigers had two runners on base in the seventh inning of Game 2 and threatened to tie. But Madison shortstop Wyatt Wood robbed Winston Turner of a hit with a diving catch, then flipped to second to complete a double play.
LIGHTS GO OUT: Friday night was the night the lights went out in Georgia – literally – at least at Wesleyan in its first round Class AA series on Friday against Coosa.
Wesleyan was two outs away from a first-round sweep when the lights went out. Coosa had a runner on first. It took some 15 minutes for the lights to reboot and Coosa scored the two runs it needed for a 6-5 victory in Game 2.
The Wolves, however, rebounded to win Game 3 on Saturday to win the best-of-three series.
MOSLEY SHUTS DOWN BACON: After shutting down Bacon County in a Class AA sweep Friday night, Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis gave pitcher Dylan Mosley some stiff instructions.
"Brush your teeth with your left arm until Wednesday," Lewis told Mosley according to The Augusta Chronicle.
Mosley pitched all 10 innings in the Game 2, 5-3 victory. Harlem took the first game 2-0 to advance to the second round where they will play host to Holy Innocents, who upset top-ranked Gordon Lee in three games, on Wednesday.
DIFFERENT SERIES, FAMILIAR FACE: After Mount de Sales broke Savannah Christian’s 20-game winning streak with a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the Raiders’ Class A private first-round series, Savannah Christian rallied back for two wins to advance. The opponent is a familiar one – Calvary Day
The two teams will meet again in the second round after the Raiders defeated Calvary Day three times during the regular season, including two victories last weekend when Savannah Christian won the Region 3-A title.
THIS AND THAT: Charlton County will meet ECI in the second round of the Class A public state tournament for the third straight year. Charlton has won 20 straight after sweeping Glascock County in its first round series on Friday.
George Walton will meet Hebron Christian in the second round of the Class A private school state tournament for the second time in less than two weeks. George Walton took two of three against Hebron to win the Region 8-A title last week.