First Round playoff recap

Posted 5/1/2021


Class 7A

South Forsyth head baseball coach Russ Bayer thought that his region was prepared for the postseason after surviving a rugged region schedule that didn't finish until the final day of the regular season. He was right.

Bayer's War Eagles needed three games to oust Dunwoody in the first round, but the remainder of the region's three teams -- Denmark, Forsyth Central and Lambert -- all swept their first round series to advance.

"Our region was very, very strong," said Bayer. "The depth of our region was very good."

This and That: Thirteen of the 16 series in the classification were sweeps. ....Two region champions were upset in the first round - Region 2 champion Campbell lost to North Cobb in three games, while Region 6 No. 4 Lambert swept Region 7 champion Norcross. .... North Paulding has won 10 straight since its last loss to North Cobb on April 3. The Wolfpack swept McEachern in the first round. Parkview has also won 10 straight. The two are tied for the longest winning streaks in the classification.

Best First-Round Series: Mountain View at Cherokee - The two teams locked horns on Thursday in a pair of one-run and two-run games. But in the end, the Warriors continued to show they will be a team to contend with, blanking Mountain View 6-0 in the series finale Friday night to advance.

Upset Special: Newnan at Walton - The Cougars, who have been road warriors since a tornado earlier this season made their home field unplayable for the rest of the season, took down Region 3 runner-up Walton in three games. Had it not been for an eight-run sixth inning during Walton's 13-10 victory in Game 1, Newnan may have very well swept the Raiders.

First Round bullies: Brookwood - The Broncos, who finished as the No. 3 seed from Region 8, made the trip to South Georgia and showed no mercy on Tift County. They combined for 23 runs in a two-game sweep and allowed a combined one run.

Looking ahead to Round 2: Some intriguing series are ahead, but Forsyth Central at Mill Creek could top the list. The Bulldogs are playing as well as anybody, while Mill Creek has won 14 of its last 15.


Class 6A

Some of the nation's best high school baseball teams reside in Class 6A. Unbeaten Buford has a 31-game winning streak, while Houston County has won 12 straight and Lassiter 11. But don't discount South Effingham, winners of eight of its last 10, which helped the Mustangs win the Region 2-6A title.

In fact, out of all eight regions in the classification, no region except Region 2 had all four of its teams -- South Effingham, Glynn Academy, Richmond Hill and Statesboro -- win their series and advance to the second round.

South Effingham coach Todd Eubanks said a three-game sweep by Glynn Academy in March made his team re-focus.

"We did some soul-searching," said Eubanks, who only has two seniors graduate this year. 'Our kids responded well to getting knocked down." 

The Mustangs have won 18 of their last 21 games. They swept Heritage-Conyers, the defending Class 6A champion, in the first round. South Effingham will play host to Lee County in the second round.

This and That: Fourteen of the 16 series in Class 6A were sweeps. The only series that needed decisive Game 3s were Lee County-Lakeside (DeKalb) and Riverwood-Pope. .... The only region champion to get upset in the first round was Region 3 champion Lakeside-Evans, who was swept by Statesboro .... There were no major upsets in the first round. Only four lower seeds -- Lee County, Lassiter, Statesboro and Richmond Hill -- advanced to the next round.

Best First-Round Series: Pope at Riverwood - Riverwood needed nine innings to top Pope 3-2 in Game 1 when Kaden Husney was hit by a pitch to force home Miles Jackson for the go-ahead run. But Pope rallied back to win Games 2 and 3, 11-0 and 11-2 to advance.

Upset Special: Statesboro at Lakeside-Evans - The Blue Devils needed a 3-2 victory in Game 2 to notch the classification's biggest upset in Round 1.

First Round bullies: Richmond Hill - The Wildcats run-ruled Evans in both games of the sweep, combining to score 29 runs and allowing a combined two. 

Looking ahead to Round 2: Buford at Pope. Buford coach Stuart Chester and Pope's Jeff Rowland are legendary coaches who are both Hall of Famers, have more than 500 coaching wins each and have combined for 10 state titles. And there will also be some very good baseball talent on both sides. Also, keep an eye on Lassiter at Carrollton and Winder-Barrow at Allatoona. Throw all of the records and streaks out the window.


Class 5A

Six of Class 5As remaining 16 teams have won at least one state title in the past decade - Cartersville, Greenbrier, Blessed Trinity, Northside-Columbus and Loganville. Blessed Trinity and Loganville have won multiple titles.

Meanwhile, Wayne County and Ola have finished as state runner-up at least once in the past five seasons.

This and That: Fourteen of the 16 first-round series in Class 5A were sweeps. The only series that needed decisive Game 3s were Coffee-Locust Grove and Eastside-St. Pius X. .... The only region champion to get upset in the first round was Region 3 champion Woodward Academy, who was swept by McIntosh .... St. Pius X needed three games to eliminate Eastside, perhaps the hottest team in the classification, entering the postseason. The Eagles had won five of their last six, including a two-game sweep of three-time defending champion Loganville in Region 8-5A play during the final week of the regular season.

Best First-Round Series: Pope at Riverwood - Riverwood needed nine innings to top Pope 3-2 in Game 1 when Kaden Husney was hit by a pitch to force home Miles Jackson for the go-ahead run. But Pope rallied back to win Games 2 and 3, 11-0 and 11-2 to advance.

Upset Special: Calhoun at Villa Rica - The Yellow Jackets shot down Region 6 runner-up Villa Rica in a sweep. It wasn't easy but they held on for a 2-0 victory in Game 2 with pitcher Bryse Ingle striking out 12 and allowing just two hits.

First Round bullies: Decatur- The Bulldogs are playing as good as anybody right now. They smothered Walnut Grove by a combined 21-6 in a sweep.

Looking ahead to Round 2: Take your pick, but Cartersville at DecaturCalhoun at Greenbrier, Harris County at Ola and Loganville at North Springs are all intriguing. The best series could be McIntosh at Ware County. McIntosh is the only No. 4 seed still alive and the Chiefs have played well all season. So has Ware County.


Class 4A

Cedartown has had no growing pains moving up in classification this year. The Bulldogs moved up from Class 3A and proceeded to win the Region 7-4A title. They entered the postseason winning seven of their final nine.

When Mays earned the fourth and final seed from Region 6 on Monday, the Raiders drew Cedartown in their first round series on Wednesday. The Bulldogs won Game 1, 4-3, then pounded the Raiders 12-1 to sweep the series.

After winning nine of their last 10, the Bulldogs draw Flowery Branch in a second round matchup.

This and That: Fourteen of the 16 first-round series in Class 4A were sweeps. The only series that needed decisive Game 3s were Cairo-Perry and Northwest Whitfield-Druid Hills. .... Region 1 champion Bainbridge and Region 3 champion Benedictine have each won 10 straight heading into the second round.

Best First-Round Series: Cairo at Perry - After Cairo took Game 1, 7-3, Perry battled back to narrowly win Game 2 and force a third and final game. The Panthers, however, took control and won 10-4 to oust the Syrupmakers.

Upset Special: Northwest Whitfield at Druid Hills - After Northwest's Cade Fisher, one of the top pitchers in the Class of 2022, struck out 16 in a 3-0 one-hitter in Game 1, the Bruins couldn't sustain that momentum in the final two games and were eliminated.

First Round bullies: Thomas County Central, North Oconee and Troup - All three combined to score at least 29 or more runs and didn't their opponents to score a run in sweeps.

Looking ahead to Round 2: Jefferson at Marist - It's not fair that these two should have to meet so early. Both are playing excellent baseball right now.


Class 3A

Franklin County outslugged Oconee County and Hart County to win the Region 8 title. The Lions' reward?

They played host to a surging Westminster squad that finished as the fourth seed from Region 5. The Wildcats, playing their best baseball of the season, gave Franklin County all it could handle in Game 1 before falling 8-7 in 10 innings. 

Evan Herring's single in the bottom of the 10th scored Kanya Jinks for the game-winning run. 

The loss put away the pesky Wildcats with an 8-2 victory in Game 2 to sweep the series.

This and That: Fourteen of the 16 first-round series in Class 3A were sweeps. The only series that needed decisive Game 3s were Crisp County-Southeast Bulloch and White County-Sonoraville. .... Four schools who finished as three seeds survived the first round - Long County, Hart County, Upson Lee and Sandy Creek .... All No. 4 seeds in Class 3A were eliminated in Round 1. 

Best First-Round Series: Hart County at Redan - After slumping near the finish line and finishing as the third seed from Region 8, Hart County drew powerful Redan in the first round. The Bulldogs were able to pull of a sweep in a series that was far from easy.

Upset Special: Sandy Creek at Oconee County - After taking a three-game sweep of Hart County in Region 8-3A play during the final week of the regular season, Oconee County entered as one of the hotter teams in the classification. The Warriors, however, ran into a hot Sandy Creek squad that swept Oconee and advanced.

First Round bullies: Southeast Bulloch - After losing to Crisp County 4-3 in Game 1 of its series, Southeast Bulloch scored a combined 32 runs in Games 2 and 3 to eliminate the Cougars. The Jackets combined to allow just one run in the final two games of the series.

Looking ahead to Round 2: Hart County at North Hall - These two teams traded spots for the top spot in the Class 3A rankings all season. Both teams are good enough to win a state title. One, however, will go home after Round 2.


Class 2A

Jeff Davis is probably tired of seeing Fitzgerald in the state baseball playoffs. For the third straight season (2020 season was canceled), the two will meet.

In 2018, Jeff Davis swept the Purple Hurricanes in the first round. 

In 2019 on its way to a second state title in three years, Jeff Davis met Fitzgerald in the second round and needed three games to eliminate the Hurricanes.

After Fitzgerald stunned Region 4 champion Jefferson County in the first round on Friday, the Hurricanes earned another chance at the Yellow Jackets.

This and That: Twelve of the 16 first-round series in Class 2A were sweeps.  .... With the exception of Region 4 champion Jefferson County who lost in three games to Fitzgerald, the remaining region champions survived the first round. .... Surging Berrien didn't Westside-Augusta to score a run in a sweep Wednesday night. .... Region 2 champion Vidalia has won 18 straight, the longest winning streak in Class 2A, after sweeping Washington County in the first round.

Best First-Round Series: Jasper County at Jeff Davis - After Jasper County stunned the home-standing Yellow Jackets with a 4-1 defeat in Game 1, Jeff Davis roared back to win the final two games and advance.

Upset Special: Haralson County at Banks - After forcing a deciding third game, Haralson County took Game 3, 21-8 to advance to the second round as a No. 3 seed.

First Round bullies: Pace Academy - The Region 6 champs combined to outscore Dade County 23-2 in a sweep.

Looking ahead to Round 2: Lovett at Elbert County - Since 2017, Elbert County has annually made deep postseason runs. Lovett is no stranger to deep playoff runs either. Something has to give here.


Class 1A Public

Since the Georgia High School Association divided Class 1A into a public and private classification in 2013, four public schools have combined to win all the state titles -- Charlton County, Schley County, Treutlen and Gordon Lee. 

With the exception of Treutlen, who was swept by Region 1 champion Seminole County, the remaining trio advanced to the second round after easy sweeps in the first round. 

This and That: All of the 16 first-round series in Class 1A Public were sweeps.  .... Only Social Circle, who swept Taylor County, and Montgomery County are No. 3 three seeds. No No. 4 seeds survived the first round. The rest are seeded two or higher. .... Region 4 (Wilcox County, Johnson County, Montgomery County) and Region 8 (Commerce, Washington-Wilkes and Social Circle) have three teams each advance to the second round. .... Class 1A Public schols have some impressive win streaks -- Gordon Lee (19 straight), Claxton (15 straight), Washington-Wilkes (12 straight), ACE Charter (12 straight), Charlton County (10 straight) and Irwin County (10 straight)

Best First-Round Series: Chattahoochee County at Washington-Wilkes- There wasn't too much drama, but Chattahoochee County made it interesting in Game 2.

Upset Special: Social Circle at Taylor County - The Redskins showed Region 8 prepared them well for the postseason as they swept Taylor County.

First Round bullies: Metter - John Luke Glanton's no-hitter in a 10-0 Game 1 win set the tone, then the Tigers' bats erupted for 14 runs in a Game 2 shutout. Metter combined for 24 runs against Lanier County.

Looking ahead to Round 2: Irwin County at Wilcox County - These two competed in the same region before this season. They are very familiar with each other.


Class 1A Private

Fellowship Christian trailed by three runs in a deciding third game against Darlington in its first round series on Friday. Things didn't look very good for the Paladins heading into the bottom of the seventh.

But Fellowship Christian scored four runs, including a pair of runs on an error to walk off with a 6-5 victory and send Darlington home with a heart-breaking setback.

Garrett Hauenstein's two-run single earlier in the inning set the stage for the walk-off victory. The victory earned the Paladins a second round home date against Prince Avenue Christian who swept past Holy Innocents' in its first round series on Thursday.

This and That: Eleven of the 16 first-round series in Class 1A Public were sweeps.  .... Mount Paran pitchers Luke Dotson and Cam Collier hurled back-to-back no-hitters to help the Eagles sweep past Saint Francis in their first round series. Mount Paran won its 16th straight game. .... Top-ranked Wesleyan easily swept past Tallulah Falls and won its 19th straight. .... All region champions except Region 2 champion Whitefield Academy advanced to the second round.

Best First-Round Series: North Cobb Christian at Kings Ridge Christian -- Kings Ridge used two one-run victories to eliminate North Cobb Christian.

Upset Special: Aquinas at Whitefield Academy - The No. 4 seed Fighting Irish from Region 3 needed three games, but they ended a promising Whitefield Academy season.

First Round bullies: Wesleyan - The No. 1 Wolves combined to outscore Tallulah Falls in its first round sweep.

Looking ahead to Round 2: First Presbyterian Day at Savannah Christian - Since a five-game losing skid in early March, the Raiders haven't lost since, rolling off 19 straight wins. FPD has the talent to go toe-to-toe with the Raiders.