Class A semifinal previews

Posted 5/8/16

By Tim Morse

Georgia Dugout Preview


Class A public
Treutlen (24-5) at Schley County (26-2), Monday, 4 p.m.

Schley County has maintained the top spot in the Class A public school rankings all season. And the Wildcats have largely been unchallenged.
However, don’t tell that to Schley coach Chuck Cheek. He knows his team will see two of the state’s top pitchers in Tristan Cone and Zach Hughes when the Vikings stroll into Ellaville Monday for the best-of-three Class A public state semifinals.
“They are one of the best coached teams in the state and Cone is one of the best pitchers in the state,” Cheek said. “There is a reason they are one of the top teams in the state every year.”
It will be the second straight year the two teams have met in the semifinals. Last year, the Wildcats (26-2) used a walk-off single in Game 3 of the series from Michael Leeder to eliminate Treutlen on their way to the state championship.
Schley County and Treutlen were ranked 1-2 in the preseason baseball poll and neither has disappointed. The Wildcats’ strength has also been its pitching staff. Blake Howell, Brett Usry, Chase Patrick and Leeder have received the bulk of the innings.
“We don’t really have an ace,” Cheek said. “We’ve got four guys on our staff that we trust.”
On offense, it starts with senior outfielder Josh Hutchens, who is batting over .400 and is a threat to steal every time he reaches.
“When he gets on base, we usually do pretty well,” Cheek said.
Treutlen (24-5) has relied heavily on its pitching for most of the season. However, the Vikings’ offense has combined for 43 runs in playoff sweeps of Miller County and Irwin County. Treutlen coach Brent Korn said the offense started to produce during the last week of the regular season.
Part of the resurgence has been due to catalysts like Titus Benjamin, who was moved from the outfield to first base, and right fielder Jordan Morris , who is batting .370.
“We’ve got it going at the right time,” Korn said of the offense. “I don’t know if it will continue, but it’s rolling right now.”
The Treutlen senior class has been to the state semifinals every year. They want to take it a step farther this spring. The group has combined to win 86 games.
The doubleheader begins at 4 p.m. Monday at Schley County with a third game, if needed, to be played at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

Class A public

Trion (22-5) at Charlton County (27-2), Monday, 5 p.m.
After making a near 350-mile trip to Baconton Charter last week, Trion will make another long trip to Folkston to meet Charlton County in the Class A public school semifinals on Monday.
Trion (22-5) didn’t seem bothered by the trip to Baconton. They won the first game 7-4, then took a 10-0 victory in five innings in Game 2 to sweep the Blazers. Last Friday, they swept a pair of games from Clinch County in the first round.
The pitching combination of Drew Williams and Gabe Howell in the first game of each playoff series has paid off as they have combined for a pair of victories. Evan Walker has been the Game 2 starter and he has allowed just two runs in the postseason.
Howell continues to sizzle at the plate. One of the state’s top hitters during the regular season, the leadoff-hitting Howell is 7 for 10 in the playoffs with a double, triple, a homer and an RBI. He was 5 for 6 in two games last week against Baconton.
Charlton County pitcher Austin Knowles and Jack Gowen haven’t given their opponents much of a chance in the playoffs. Knowles has combined to allow just a run on seven hits in a pair of victories over Glascock County and ECI, while Gowen has been just as effective.
The Indians (27-2) have won 22 straight and have combined to score 28 runs in the postseason. Most of the offensive damage has come courtesy of Pete Chesser who was 7 for 11 in the with three doubles and six RBIs.
The first game of the doubleheader on Monday starts at 5 p.m. with the third game, If needed, to be played at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Class A private

Calvary Day (19-9) at Tattnall Square (23-7), Monday, 4:30 p.m.
Tattnall Square pitchers have been tough on hitters in the playoffs. In a pair of sweeps against Mount Paran Christian and Eagles Landing Christian, the Trojans' 1-2 punch of Cory Bartholomew and Garrett Houston have combined to allow just five runs in the postseason.
The pair allowed only four runs and two runners to reach third base in a pair of victories over Eagles Landing Christian. The Chargers scored their only run of the series in the bottom of the seventh in Game 2. Bartholomew hurled a one-hit shutout in Game 1.
The Trojans, playing in their second season as a Georgia High School Association member, are 23-7.
Ninth-seeded Calvary Day needed three games to oust Brookstone in the first round, then swept arch-rival Savannah Christian in the second round, less than two weeks after the Raiders took a pair of victories from Calvary to win the Region 3-A title.
The Cavaliers (19-9) scored three runs early in Game 1, then pitcher Bryson Smeltzer did the rest, allowing just a run on five hits. Tristan Triplett and Rudy Amaya each went 2 for 4.
But Calvary scored a thrilling 5-4 victory in eight innings to sweep the series behind Triplett, whose RBI single scored Harrison Bocook and helped Amaya earn the victory in relief of Chance Litchfield. Triplett finished 4 for 8 in the series with a double and an RBI.
The first game of the doubleheader begins at 4:30 p.m. on Monday. If a third game is needed, it would be played at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Class A private

Hebron Christian (27-5) at Kings Ridge Christian (27-3), Monday, 4:30 p.m.
Kings Ridge Christian has won the last two meetings between Hebron Christian, including a 7-3 nonregion victory over the Lions on March 5. The Tigers also took Game 3 in extra innings last year in the Class A private school state championship series to win their second straight state title.
Kings Ridge Christian (27-3) has won 11 straight, including sweeps over Mount Vernon Presbyterian and Mount Pisgah Christian in the state playoffs.
Kyle Brnovich struck out 14 and earned a complete-game victory in a 4-3 win over Mount Pisgah in Game 1 last Wednesday. He also went 2 for 3 at the plate, while Cullen Monette went 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs. Then Fraser Ellard's complete-game victory helped the Tigers win 4-1 in Game 2 to sweep the series.
Hebron Christian (27-5) used a complete-game three-hit shutout from Spence Johns to eliminate George Walton 4-0 in Game 3 last Thursday. The victory came less than two weeks after George Walton defeated Hebron Christian for the Region 8-A title.
While the two-time defending state champion Tigers are playing well, first-year Hebron coach Ben Drust is looking forward to the series.
“They’re a great ball club,” Drust told the Gwinnett Daily Post. “It’s going to be a fun series. It’s the playoffs. Every series is fun. So, we’ll see what happens.”
The first game of the doubleheader begins at 4:30 p.m. Monday in Alpharetta. If a Game 3 is needed, it would be played at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.