Classes 6A-2A third round previews

Posted 5/8/16



South Cobb (18-13) at Pope (24-6), Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.

It doesn't matter where you finish as long as you get into the state playoffs. South Cobb knows that statement too well from head coach Mark Collins.
The Eagles, the lone No. 4 seed remaining in Class AAAAAA, needed to beat Campbell on the next-to-last day of the regular season to make the playoffs as the fourth and final seed from Region 3-AAAAAA.
South Cobb has recorded a pair of postseason sweeps, including eliminating Region 2 champion Rockdale County in the first round before sweeping past North Forsyth last week. The Eagles (18-13) will visit Region 5 champion Pope in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
Collins wants everyone to know the credit should go to the players.
"Players win games, not coaches," Collins said. "The players have to buy into what the coaches are selling, but the players win the games."
Standout pitcher Devin Lucas has three wins and two saves in postseason play. In 19 innings, he has allowed just two runs, walked two and struck out 15. Collins said Lucas, who also catches, was the team's primary catcher early in the season. But Lucas also wanted to pitch.
"I told him he needed to help us develop a catcher," Collins said.
Lucas did that. He and Jose Bustamonte worked tirelessly and Bustamonte has been admirable behind the plate. Collins also praised shortstop Malik Bell for his defense as well as junior second baseman Jamal Combest.
The Eagles are having their best season in recent memory and they don't want it to stop against Pope (24-6), who has swept Grayson and Valdosta so far in the postseason.

Collins Hill (23-6) at Harrison (23-7), Tuesday, 4 p.m.
Harrison appears to be playing its best baseball at the right time, sweeping Tift County and Brookwood, to make it to the quarterfinals.The Hoyas eliminated Brookwood with strong pitching, including a three-hit shutout from Ryan Parker in Game 1, followed by a strong performance from Ben Brock and Harrison Coley in the second game.
Collins Hill is also hot, sweeping West Forsyth and East Coweta in the postseason. The Eagles' Riley King nearly no-hit East Coweta in a 3-0 Game 1 victory last week before Cole Zabowski struck out the side to preserve the shutout.

Etowah (22-7) at Norcross (25-6), Tuesday, 5 p.m.
The hottest team in the state is Etowah who has won 14 straight. The Eagles, the No. 3 seed from Region 5, swept Parkview in the first round, then needed eight innings to beat Colquitt County 4-0 in Game 1 last Wednesday on Andrew Keene's grand slam.
Then Sawyer Gipson-Long, Keene and Brian Keet combined on a three-hit shutout in a 6-0 victory in Game 2. Etowah pitching has allowed just two runs in four postseason victories.
Norcross pitchers Cooper Stinson and Fletcher Byrd helped the Blue Devils to a sweep of Newnan in the last week's second round. Stinson struck out 11 in the Game 1, 3-2 victory.

Walton (26-4) at Lambert (25-6), Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.
Walton boasts one of the state's top offenses and has combined to score 34 runs in a pair of sweeps over Archer and Lee County. The Raiders' pitching staff has allowed just six runs.
But Region 6 champion Lambert may have the pitching staff to slow down Walton's offense. Zach Graveno boasts an ERA less than 0.20 and Cole Varner allowed just one run on five hits in last week's 2-1 victory in Game 1 over Lakeside-DeKalb.


Kell (22-9) at Loganville (24-6), Tuesday, 4 p.m.

Kell made the state playoffs in the rugged Region 7 tournament and has made the most of it, sweeping Mays in the first round before ousting defending state champion Greenbrier in the second round. The Longhorns' reward -- a trip to face preseason favorite Loganville in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
Making the state quarters has become a tradition at Loganville. The Red Devils have made the quarterfinals eight of the past nine seasons. Loganville hopes they can get similar pitching performances from Mitchell Miller, Ryan English and Drew Franklin like they did in a sweep of Northside-Columbus.
Miller struck out 16 in a 3-2 victory in Game 1, then English and Franklin combined on a three-hitter in a 4-1 victory in Game 2.

Winder-Barrow (25-5) at South Effingham (20-11), Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs have swept South Paulding and Northgate so far, while South Effingham gained notoriety after a sweep of Region 7 champion Forsyth Central last week in the second round.
Winder-Barrow has been able to produce plenty of offense, including Trent Maddox's 4 for 7 performance in the sweep of Northgate.
South Effingham's pitching has been solid in the postseason. Davis Hare hurled a complete-game shutout in a 4-0 victory over Forsyth Central in Game 1, then Luke McCann allowed just one run in an 11-1, five-inning victory in Game 2.

Dalton (23-7) at Gainesville (26-4), Tuesday, 4 p.m.
Gainesville has won 11 straight including sweeps of Alexander and LaGrange in the postseason, while Dalton swept Dunwoody and needed three games to oust Evans in the second round.
In the two victories over Evans, the Catamounts erupted for 19 runs on 23 hits.

Columbus (25-6) at Houston County (24-7), Tuesday, 4 p.m.
While pitching dominated the Houston County-Cambridge series in the second round, Columbus-Allatoona ended in a dramatic finish when Cason Greathouse scored on Dawson Weaver's infield single in the eighth inning of Game 2 which helped the Blue Devils beat Allatoona 3-2, sweeping the series.
After Cambridge pitcher Austin Weiermiller shut down Houston County in Game 1 of its series for a 2-0 victory, the Bears battled back to win Games 2 and 3.
Tanner Hall, Tony Locey and Austin Langford each went 3 for 3 in an 11-1 victory in Game 2, then DL Hall hurled a one-hit shutout in Game 3 to win the series.


 Class AAAA

Cartersville (19-11) at Buford (27-3), Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.
A lot of attention will be focused on Cartersville and Buford, who were ranked 1-2 in the preseason. Buford swept Cartersville in the state semifinals last season on their way to a state title.
Pitching should be a premium in this series. Buford's top two starters have been Justin Glover and Griffin Jollif, while Cartersville has been led by Elliott Anderson and Anthony Seigler.

Cartersville is in the quarterfinals for a school-record ninth straight season.

Eastside (21-8) at St. Pius X (24-5), Tuesday, 1 p.m.
St. Pius X is back in the state quarterfinals after sweeping West Laurens in a pair of games last week. The Lions, who have won 16 straight, were led by Garrett Gooden, whose homer in Game 1 helped St. Pius to a 7-6 victory. Then he pitched a complete game in Game 2, hit another homer and finished 2 for 3 to help the Lions eliminate West Laurens.
Eastside swept a pair of victories from Madison County to advance to the quarterfinals. The Eagles, in their second season under coach Bruce Evans, have been led by pitcher Gray Ritchie, catcher Austin Holloway and shortstop Nick Womack.

Veterans (21-9) at Woodward Academy (16-14), Tuesday, 3 p.m.
The Warhawks are in the quarterfinals for the fourth straight season after ousting Marist in three games last week. Kyle Parry tossed a complete game and Veterans scored the winning run on an error in a 2-1 victory.
Woodward, after needing three games to eliminate North Oconee in the first round, swept Thomas County in the second round. The War Eagles combined for 19 hits in the two games.

Heritage-Catoosa (23-7) at Locust Grove (27-3), Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.
The Generals have won 12 straight and lost just twice in April. The Region 7 champions have swept Chamblee and Wayne County in the postseason behind a lethal pitching duo of Dylan Bice and Cole Wilcox. Bice allowed just a run on two hits in an 11-1 victory over Wayne County in Game 1. Joseph Hill provided Bice all the offensive support he needed, going 3 for 3 with a double, a homer and three RBIs.
Then Wilcox allowed just a run on four hits in a complete-game 5-1 victory in Game 2.
Locust Grove is back in the quarterfinals for the second straight year after eliminating North Hall in three games last week. The Wildcats rebounded to win Games 2 and 3 after dropping the first game. Locust Grove scored five runs in the seventh inning after Nolan Crisp worked the final five scoreless innings in relief to earn the victory.


Class AAA

Franklin County (28-2) at Blessed Trinity (29-1), Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.
Franklin County visiting Blessed Trinity comes with its share of storylines. The biggest was the two teams flirting with perfection this season. Franklin County won their first 22 games and claimed the Region 7 title before dropping its first game to Fannin County the last week of the regular season. Franklin swept Sonoraville, then after dropping Game 1 of their series against Washington County, the Lions rebounded to win the series.
Blessed Trinity, meanwhile, won its first 18 games and had a 49-game winning streak dating back to last season before losing to Teurlings Catholic of Louisiana in a spring break tournament. It has been the Titans' only loss of the season.
Blessed Trinity swept Brantley County and Callaway in the first two round of the postseason by a combined score of 21-3.

Calhoun (22-8) at Cedartown (26-4), Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.
Cedartown eliminated Calhoun in three games in the 2015 playoffs in Calhoun. The Jackets will travel to face the Region 5 champions this season.
After dropping a 4-3 decision to Jackson in Game 1 last week in the second round, Calhoun rallied to win the second and third games by a combined 20-4. Brett Potts allowed just a run on five hits in the 11-1 victory in Game 2.
Then Calhoun's Rhett Rogers went 3 for 4 to pace Calhoun's 11-hit attack in a 9-3 victory last Thursday to take the series.
Cedartown is coached by Doyle Kelley, who is in his second stint as the Bulldogs coach. Cedartown has swept Southeast Bulloch and Decatur to reach the quarterfinals. In the second round victory, the Bulldogs broke out the offense, combining for 19 runs in the sweep.

Westminster (24-6) at Westside-Augusta (24-5), Tuesday, 4 p.m.
One of the best series in the state will feature Westminster at Westside-Augusta. The Wildcats swept defending state runner-up Jefferson in the second round in a series that was delayed by rain.
The Wildcats broke out the offense in the sweep of Jefferson. Rankin Woley went 6 for 7 with four doubles and a homer to lead Westminster.
After Westside lost Game 1 of its second round series to Dawson County 7-1, ending a 21-game winning streak, the Patriots rallied back to win Games 2 and 3 to take the series.
Jonathan Jahn and Brandon Brown have been Westside's leaders on the mound, while shortstop Tim Gray and catcher William Wingate have paced the offense.

Jackson County (17-14) at Ringgold (24-6), Tuesday, 4 p.m.
Ringgold has made things look easy in the postseason, sweeping Banks County and Peach County. The Tigers' pitching staff has been lights out, especially senior right-hander Devin Lancaster who has been virtually unhittable.
The Tigers, however, have been concerned with their offensive production.
They will face Jackson County, who finished as the third seed from Region 8 but is built for a three-game series. Last week in the second round, the Panthers split with Appling County, then took a 14-1 victory in Game 3 to advance.


Class AA

Wesleyan (24-8) at Berrien (22-8), Tuesday, 3 p.m.
The play gave Wesleyan the momentum and cut down Jeff Davis. Holding a 7-5 lead with runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh inning of Game 1, Wolves' second-baseman Drew Aspinwall speared a line drive for the first out, stepped on the bag at second and threw to first to pick off the runner, converting a rare triple play to end the game.
The Wolves won Game 1, 7-5, then took a 10-4 victory in the second game to sweep the series and advance to the state quarterfinals.
The Wolves travel south to face Region 1 champion Berrien, who eliminated Bremen in three games last week. Krehmeyer said Wesleyan is looking forward to traveling. They have played well on the road this year.
"Our kids are looking forward to getting on the road," he said. "We won all of our region games on the road. We had more trouble at home than we did on the road."
Berrien came on strong after starting the season 0-4 against larger schools in south Georgia such as Lowndes and Colquitt County. The Rebels have won 22 of their last 26 games.

Holy Innocents (22-10) at Heard County (17-14), Tuesday, 5 p.m.
Holy Innocents, the fourth seed from Region 6, will be on the road for the third straight series when they tackle Heard County. The Golden Bears have needed three games to win both of their series so far, ousting Gordon Lee and Harlem.
Heard County has swept Social Circle and Lamar County to reach the quarterfinals for the second straight season.

Lovett (19-10) at Union County (19-7), Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.
Lovett is hoping this trip to Northeast Georgia is better than its last trip. Last year in the state quarterfinals, the Lions were swept by Rabun County. The Lions are one of the hotter teams in Class AA, having won eight straight. They have swept Darlington and Metter to reach the quarterfinals.
Union County captured the Region 8 title and has been led by pitcher Joe Mancuso. The Panthers have swept Manchester and Bleckley County to reach the quarterfinals.

Greater Atlanta Christian (23-8) at Bowdon (29-2), Tuesday, 4 p.m.
Perhaps the most intriguing matchup in Class AA in the quarterfinals. Bowdon showed its resiliency after falling in the second game to Thomasville last week. The Red Devils scored 12 runs on 13 hits in Game 3 and cruised to a 12-1 victory behind pitcher Reed Robinson, who allowed just a run on six hits in the five-inning victory.
After sweeping Model in its first round series, Greater Atlanta Christian got drilled by Benedictine in the first game of its second round series last week before rallying to win Game 2, 4-3.
GAC then put up six runs in the first inning of Game 3 and held on for an 8-5 victory to eliminate the powerful Cadets.