GHSA Round 2 notebook

Posted 5/7/21

Updated at 8:55 with Class 2A Game 3 series between Callaway-Pepperell

Pope ended Buford's 31-game winning streak on Wednesday, then ended

Buford's season on Thursday (Special Photo: David McGregor)


GHSA Round 2 recap

When the Georgia High School baseball playoffs began last week, two schools had a chance to make history -- Buford and Loganville.

One chase will continue, while the other saw its bid come to an end.

Buford lost its chance to become the first high school team in Georgia since Evans High School in 1989 to finish an entire season unbeaten when Pope handed the Wolves their first loss of the season -- a 1-0 setback Wednesday night -- to end Buford's winning streak at 31 games. Then Pope ended the Wolves' hopes for a potential state championship with a 5-3 extra-inning setback in Game 3 Thursday night to stun the nation's top-ranked team and end their season.

“They’re all big this time of the year,” Pope head coach Jeff Rowland told the Gwinnett Daily Post. “I can’t say enough about our kids. I can’t say enough about our fan base. You look at them. They’re into it. We can’t thank them enough. It wouldn’t happen without them. … You don’t get to play a No. 1 (team) in the nation very often. We’ve played some ranked teams, none ranked No. 1. You throw all that stuff out the window this time of year and anything can happen. I’m excited for our kids. They did what they needed to do.”

Loganville, bidding to become the first team since Richmond Academy to win four or more consecutive state titles, will continue its pursuit after needing extra innings to eliminate North Springs in its best-of-three second round series late Thursday night. Richmond Academy won seven straight state titles from 1951-57.


Class 7A

BEST SERIES: South Forsyth at Woodstock -- After Woodstock rolled to an easy 7-0 win in Game 1 of its best-of-three second round series, South Forsyth rallied back to take a 3-2 win in Game 2 Wednesday night to force a decisive Game 3. Woodstock made the most of its three hits and took a 2-1 victory to eliminate the War Eagles on Thursday.

MOST SURPRISING SERIES: Forsyth Central at Mill Creek -- Forsyth Central survived in the rugged Region 6 during the regular season to make the playoffs and was well-prepared for the postseason. The manner in which they swept Mill Creek, the Region 8 champion, may have been the biggest surprise. In Game 1, Aaron Turner's two-hit shutout handcuffed Mill Creek in a 10-0 victory. Then Will Robbins' two-run homer in Game 2 provided the clincher in a 7-4 victory in Game 2 to sweep the series. 

WHEW: Michael Parker's two-out single scored Logan Lynch to help North Paulding to an 8-7 walk-off victory in Game 1 against Brookwood. The Region 3 champion Wolfpack then eliminated Brookwood with an 8-4 victory in Game 2.

ON ROAD AGAIN: After a tornado damaged Newnan's baseball field earlier this season, the Cougars had no home and forced the team to finish out its season by playing every game on the road. Lowndes put an end to Newnan's season, using Sam Bennett's two-run homer in the sixth inning of Game 1 to propel the Vikings to a 2-1 victory. Lowndes then took command in a 10-4 Game 2 victory to advance.

THIS & THAT: Denmark is in the quarterfinals for the second time in as many seasons (2020 was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic) after eliminating North Gwinnett in three games on Thursday. In 2019 in the Danes' first year of existence, they finished as the state runner-up in Class 4A. ... Parkview continues to be an offensive machine in the postseason. After combining to outscore Colquitt County 19-3 in the first round, the Panthers combined to outscore East Coweta 25-11 in a sweep. ... Lambert is the only No. 4 seed still playing after sweeping Cherokee in Round 2. ...Grayson's Henry Hunter went a combined 4-for-5 with a three-run homer to help the Rams sweep past North Cobb.

QUARTERFINAL ROUND MATCHUPS: Woodstock at North Paulding; Grayson at Forsyth Central; Lambert at Lowndes; Denmark at Parkview


Class 6A

BEST SERIES: Pope at Buford -- Riley Frost inserted his name into the history books -- twice. The Pope senior helped the Greyhounds end Buford's 31-game unbeaten streak with a walk-off single Wednesday night in a 1-0 victory in Game 2 after Buford took the first game of the series 8-1. Then Frost did it again Thursday night with a two-run single in the top of the eighth to break a three-all tie. Then Carson Kerce worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth inning to end Buford's dream season. 

MOST SURPRISING SERIES: Lassiter at Carrollton -- The nationally-ranked Trojans hammered Lassiter 10-0 in Game 1 of their series. But it was Lassiter who got the last laugh. They returned a 10-0 whipping in Game 2 to force a third and deciding game. The Trojans staked themselves to a four-run lead in the first inning, then held on as pitchers Trey Griffin and Walker Noland combined to cut down the Trojans, who were ranked No. 2 in Class 6A. Cameron Campbell added a two-run homer and Bradley Frye went 3-for-4 at the plate in the victory.

WHEW: It took nine innings in a deciding Game 3 for South Effingham to finally put away Lee County. Noah Hollis' two-run homer sent the Mustangs, the Region 2 champion, into the quarterfinals following a 9-7 victory. Hollis, batting in the bottom of the lineup, finished 2-for-2 with three RBIs.

NAIL BITERS: Valdosta scored a pair of one-run victories over Statesboro to advance to the quarterfinals. In Game 1, Jordan Caraway's single scored Lamonte Lindon for a walk-off 3-2 victory. Then in Game 2, JD Smith's complete-game victory helped the Wildcats eliminate Statesboro with a 3-2 victory. Valdosta made the most of just five hits in Game 2.

THIS & THAT: Allatoona's Ethan Sutton cut down Winder-Barrow's rally in Game 1 of its best-of-three series, striking out his only batter to earn the save in a 7-6 victory in Game 1. Winder-Barrow had runners at first and third before Sutton recorded the strikeout. The Buccaneers rolled to an easy 12-1 victory in Game 2 to sweep the Bulldoggs. ... Glynn Academy is in the quarterfinals for the first time in 27 years after sweeping Region 4 champion Westlake. .... Houston County made it look easy against Richmond Hill, combining to outscore the Wildcats 20-2 in a sweep. .... RBI singles in the top of the seventh by Trent Reddick and Cole McDaniel helped East Paulding break a 4-all tie, then Jonah Pace worked a scoreless bottom of the seventh to earn the victory on the mound as the Raiders bested Region 7 champion River Ridge in three games.

QUARTERFINAL ROUND MATCHUPS: Lassiter at Valdosta; Pope at South Effingham; East Paulding at Houston County; Glynn Academy at Allatoona


Class 5A

BEST SERIES: Northside-Columbus at Wayne County -- Northside, the defending Class 4A champions who moved up a classification, gave Region 1 champion Wayne County all it could handle before Wayne County escaped. After Tyler Denison's complete-game 8-0 victory in Game 1, Northside's Connor Trepanier and Connor Sizemore combined to shut out Wayne County 1-0 in Game 2 on Monday. In Game 3, Wayne County scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth, then held on for an 8-7 victory on Tuesday to advance.

MOST SURPRISING SERIES: Cartersville at Decatur -- The Bulldogs entered the second round series on a 21-game winning streak before Cartersville swept with a pair of 4-3 victories. In Game 1, Hank Smith's RBI single scored the go-ahead run to break a 3-all tie. Then in Game 2, Cartersville made the most of two hits in a 4-3 win.

WHEW: North Springs led Loganville 7-2 before the Red Devils erupted for six runs in the seventh inning to grab an 8-7 lead. But North Springs scored a run to tie and force extra innings. Loganville then added three runs in the top of the eighth, then held on to win 11-8 and take the series.

FINDING A WAY: Saint Pius X has needed three games to win both of its best-of-three playoff rounds, first against Eastside and then against top-ranked Blessed Trinity. And both in both series, the Lions dropped Game 1 before rallying to win Games 2 and 3. After splitting with Blessed Trinity on Wednesday, Saint Pius X exploded for seven runs in the sixth inning to take the lead for good en route to an 8-5 victory on Thursday. Jack Herring's two-run triple highlighted the sixth inning. Herring finished 3-for-4 at the plate.

THIS & THAT: Ware County made it look easy in a sweep of McIntosh. Noah Hooks' hurled a complete game in a 6-1 victory in Game 1. Then Caden Henderson and Landon Dean stifled the Chiefs in a 5-1 victory in Game 2. .... After Greenbrier took Game 1 over Calhoun, Tyler Rowland hurled a complete-game shutout to help the Wolfpack win 2-0 and sweep the Yellow Jackets. .... Starr's Mill broke out the offense in its sweep of Coffee. The Panthers outscored the Trojans 17-4. .... Harris County's Ashton Shackelford was the winning pitcher and led the offense by going 2-for-3 with three RBIs to help the Tigers win Game 3, 5-2, and eliminate Ola.

QUARTERFINAL ROUND MATCHUPS: Cartersville at Ware County; Starr's Mill at Greenbrier; Saint Pius X at Wayne County; Loganville at Harris County


Class 4A

BEST SERIES: Flowery Branch at Cedartown -- Perhaps no team is hotter than Cedartown, who has won 11 of its last 12 games. And with their youth, their best baseball is head of them. They proved they belong among the state's elite after sweeping Flowery Branch on Wednesday. In Game 1, Corben Cuzzort hurled a three-hit shutout while Cade Dingler went 2-for-3 at the plate. Then in Game 2, the Bulldogs needed eight innings to prevail 4-3 and sweep the series as Cuzzort's RBI single in the top of the eighth scored Reece Tanner for the go-ahead run. Then MJ Holiday worked a scoreless eighth inning to preserve the victory,

MOST SURPRISING SERIES: Jefferson at Marist-- Marist got just four hits off Jefferson starter Rem Maxwell in Game 1 but won 6-3. The War Eagles then rolled to a 10-0 victory in Game 2 to sweep the series.

LATE NIGHT: Rain wreaked havoc on just about every team in the playoffs this week. At Troup, rain forced several delays in their Game 1 against Perry on Monday. Tre Mosley and Hunter Kitchens had two hits each while pitcher Daniel Martin earned the complete-game 9-4 victory in Game 1. The first game ended well after midnight. Game 2 began early the next morning and Perry was never in sync, falling 11-0 as Troup swept the series.

CLOSE UNTIL THE END: West Laurens and LaGrange played two very close games in Games 1 and 2 of their best-of-three series. But in Game 3, West Laurens erupted for 14 hits and rolled to a 17-7 victory to win the series. Carson Estep and Eli Floyd had three hits each, while Matthew Mebane smashed a three-run homer in the victory.

THIS & THAT: Heritage-Catoosa slipped in a sweep of Hampton in the rain, returning to the state quarterfinals for the second time in three years. .... After Benedictine held on for a 9-6 victory over Thomas County Central in Game 1, the Cadets showed no mercy in Game 2 in a 10-0 rout. Justin Thomas went 2-for-3 with two triples, George Mullen and Will Walker also added two hits while Vanderbilt signee Carter Holton ripped a two-run homer. Holton was the winning pitcher, fanning 13 innings in the five-inning victory. .... North Oconee star Bubba Chandler struck out 17 and fired a one-hitter in the Titans' 2-0 victory in Game 1. North Oconee then rolled to a 17-1 victory in Game 2 to sweep the series. .... Bainbridge quietly continues to roll in South Georgia. The Bearcats have won 12 straight and haven't lost since late March. They pounded Columbus High 15-3 behind two hits each from Michael Conder, Nolan Barr and Jackson McCullough, then held on for an 8-6 win in Game 2 to sweep the series.

QUARTERFINAL ROUND MATCHUPS: Heritage-Catoosa at Benedictine; Troup at North Oconee; Bainbridge at Cedartown; Marist at West Laurens


Class 3A

BEST SERIES: Hart County at North Hall -- Top-ranked North Hall managed to hold off preseason No. 1 Hart County in a second-round series that may have been more fitting for a state championship series. In Game 1, Hart County's Will Dean hurled a four-hit shutout while Peyton Powell went 3-for-3 with a homer, two doubles and two RBIs as the Bulldogs won 2-0. But North Hall forced a decisive third game with an 8-5 victory in Game 2. The Spartans scored three in the top of the ninth, then held on. In the deciding Game 3, a seven-run fifth inning helped North Hall to a 12-8 victory.

MOST SURPRISING SERIES: Long County at Pike County-- Long County showed the strength of Region 1 which still has three teams still alive (Long County, Pierce County, Appling County). The Blue Tide thumped Pike County, the defending Class 3A champions, 10-2 in Game 1 on Wednesday. Then they squeaked out a 6-5 victory in Game 2 on Thursday to sweep the series.

MAKING ITS DEBUT: Cherokee Bluff, which opened in the fall of 2018, is in the quarterfinals for the first time in school history after besting Greater Atlanta Christian in three games. The two split on Wednesday to force Game 3 on Thursday where the Bears used a three-run seventh inning to break a 1-all tie and take a 4-1 victory. Ben Jenkins scored the go-ahead run when Caleb Miele reached on a fielder's choice. Then Brody Beal's RBI double and Reece Chambers' RBI single gave Cherokee Bluff a three-run lead. Reliever Clay Tyas worked a scoreless bottom of the seventh to earn the save.

ON A ROLL: Franklin County, the Region 8 champion, has won 13 straight and has routed Westminster and Sonoraville by a combined 38-11 in its four postseason games. Part of Franklin's success has been the two-headed pitching monster of Lawson Gailey and Kayne Jinks. In Game 1 of a 10-0 six-inning victory over Sonoraville, Gailey allowed just one hit and struck out seven. In Game 2, Jinks was the winning pitcher and he struck out nine in five innings. Gailey and Dee Oliver helped spark the offense with three hits each. Oliver had a solo homer.

THIS & THAT: Appling County is in the quarterinals for the third straight season after sweeping past Southeast Bulloch. .... Pierce County got a complete-game victory from Hoke Skipper in a 6-0 victory over Upson Lee in Game 1, then the Bears used a four-run sixth inning to propel them to a 4-3 victory in Game 2 and sweep the series. .... Ringgold's Kenyon Ransom stole home in the seventh to give Ringgold a thrilling 6-5 victory in Game 1, then the Tigers shut down the Patriots and took Game 2, 3-0, to sweep the series. .... Harlem's Emery Burnett allowed just a run on four hits to help the Bulldogs win the third game of its series, 3-1, and eliminate Mary Persons.

QUARTERFINAL ROUND MATCHUPS: Cherokee Bluff at Appling County; Long County at Franklin County; Pierce County at North Hall; Ringgold at Harlem


Class 2A

BEST SERIES: Fitzgerald at Jeff Davis-- These two programs, very familiar with each other, staged another epic series. After the two split on Tuesday, Matthew White's RBI single scored Cade Walters with one out in the bottom of the seventh for a walk-off 4-3 victory. Jeff Davis is in the quarterfinals for the fourth straight season. Since 2016, the earliest Jeff Davis has exited the state playoffs has been the semifinals in 2018. 

MOST SURPRISING SERIES: Haralson County at Pace Academy -- The Rebels, the No. 3 seed from Region 5, continue to make an impressive run through the postseason. A week after eliminating Banks County, Haralson took down powerful Pace Academy on Thursday. After splitting the first two games, sophomore pitcher Carson Ray hurled a three-hit shutout as Haralson won the deciding game 5-0 to win the series.

RED HOT: Top-ranked Vidalia has won 20 straight and outscored Berrien 21-0 in a sweep on Wednesday. Landry Mead fired a complete game in Game 1 and added three hits, while Hughes Graham added a two-run homer. Cason Banks added three hits, two of them doubles. Caden Spivey earned the Game 2 victory on the mound, an 11-0 rout. Ty Dalley added two doubles, while Graham finished with two hits.

ON A ROLL: Franklin County, the Region 8 champion, has won 13 straight and has routed Westminster and Sonoraville by a combined 38-11 in its four postseason games. Part of Franklin's success has been the two-headed pitching monster of Lawson Gailey and Kayne Jinks. In Game 1 of a 10-0 six-inning victory over Sonoraville, Gailey allowed just one hit and struck out seven. In Game 2, Jinks was the winning pitcher and he struck out nine in five innings. Gailey and Dee Oliver helped spark the offense with three hits each. Oliver had a solo homer.

THIS & THAT: Anderson Everett finished with four hits, while Witt Wetherington added three as Thomasville defeated Dodge County 11-7 in Game 1. The Bulldogs then crushed the Indians 18-0 in Game 2 to sweep the series. The two teams, however, combined for 29 walks in the two games. .... Lovett is back in the quarterfinals after eliminating Elbert County in its three-game series. With the exception of 2019, the Lions have made the quarterfinal round or better every season since 2010. .... Bleckley County brought the offense and the pitching in a sweep of Putnam County. The Royals combined to score 25 runs, while allowing a combined six. .... Bremen's Jake Steed outdueled Model's Rett Edwards in a 1-0 victory in Game 1. The Blue Devils then got two hits each from Blake Matthews, Ty Morris and Seth Childers in a 7-1 victory in Game 2. Bremen pitchers Andrew Jarrell and Childers combined to allow Model just a run on two hits. .... Callaway scored four runs in the top of the seventh to grab a one-run lead, then reliever Justin Moore worked a scoreless seventh to preserve a 7-6 victory in Game 3 to help the Cavaliers eliminate Pepperell. Bryce Hubbard's two-run single gave Callaway the lead for good. He went 3-for-4 at the plate with five RBIs.

QUARTERFINAL ROUND MATCHUPS: Bremen at Bleckley County; Lovett at Vidalia; Callaway at Thomasville; Haralson County at Jeff Davis


Class 1A Public

BEST SERIES: Irwin County at Wilcox County-- Former rivals in Region 2, Wilcox County needed three games to oust Irwin County. Branson Owens pitched the Patriots to an 11-5 victory in Game 1. But Irwin's Bryce Clements and Cody Soliday combined on a four-hit shutout in a 7-0 victory in Game 2. However, Wilcox got two hits each from Abe Stowe, Branson Owens, BJ Gibson, Rhett Davis, Jordan Stephens and Larson Luke to pound Irwin 15-0 in Game 3 to take the series.

MOST SURPRISING SERIES: Claxton at Seminole County -- The Tigers had no trouble with the Region 1 champions, rolling to an easy 10-3 victory in Game 1. Then they took an 8-1 victory in Game 2. Hayden Morris earned the complete-game win in Game 1 as the Tigers, led by Landon Hendrix's three hits, combined for 11 hits. Then in Game 2, Robbie Lane allowed just a run on two hits in the complete game victory.

TOUGH ON HITTERS: Two-time defending state champion Gordon Lee swept past Washington-Wilkes and into the quarterfinals with 6-0 and 11-0 victories. Ace pitcher Jake Poindexter set the tone for the series. He continued his postseason dominance by firing his second postseason no-hitter in a 6-0 Game 1 victory over Washington-Wilkes. He struck out 15. Poindexter also had a no-hitter in last week's sweep of Glascock County in the first round.

THIS & THAT: John Luke Glanton's complete-game shutout helped Metter to a 6-0 victory over Montgomery County in Game 1. Then the Tigers brought the offense in a 20-0 Game 2 victory to sweep the series. ..... After splitting the first two games of its series, Schley County's Owen Lamb was the winning pitcher and also had three hits in an 11-1 victory over Crawford County that helped the Wildcats win the series. Jack Clark went 3-for-3 with two RBIs to pace the offense. .... ACE Charter will make its first first appearance in the quarterfinals after combining to outscore Social Circle 23-6 in a sweep. .... Commerce scored on an error in the eighth inning of Game 1 to win 8-7 over Bowdon. Then the Tigers' Tyler Herring, Hampton Hutton and Gray Holbrook finished with two hits each to help the Tigers to an 11-7 win in the second game and sweep the series. .... Sean Russell's RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Tristan Herring to help Charlton County take a 4-3 walk-off win in Game 1 against Johnson County. Then in Game 2, Gant Geiger struck out 10 in six innings as Charlton won 10-4 to sweep the series.

QUARTERFINAL ROUND MATCHUPS: Schley County at Metter; Charlton County at Commerce; Claxton at ACE Charter; Gordon Lee at Wilcox County


Class 1A Private

BEST SERIES: Calvary Day at Brookstone-- The Cavaliers, the No. 3 seed from Region 3, ambushed Region 4 champion Brookstone in Game 1 and took a 7-3 victory. The Cavaliers then rode that momentum into Game 2 where Will Hampton fired a complete-game shutout to outduel Brookstone's Coats Massey in a 2-0 victory. Niko Nichols' RBI single and Brooks Dawson's solo homer accounted for the only runs as Calvary Day swept the series. 

MOST SURPRISING SERIES: Hebron Christian at Mount Paran Christian -- The Eagles got a grand slam from Cam Collier in a 6-0 victory in Game 1 over Hebron Christian, while pitchers Luke Dotson and Paul Farley combined on a four-hit shutout. Then in Game 2, Mount Paran scored three in the top of seventh to take the lead before Farley closed the door on the Lions, helping Mount Paran Christian sweep the series.

ON FIRE: Savannah Christian has won 21 straight games. And the Raiders made it look easy in a sweep of First Presbyterian Day. In a 12-4 victory in Game 1, Joey White was the winning pitcher and also had three hits to lead the offense, Daegan Strickland also had three hits. Then in Game 2, the Raiders scored 10 runs on 12 hits to win 10-7 and sweep FPD.

THIS & THAT: Wesleyan's Andruw Jones finished the day 4-for-5, including three homers and drove in five runs, while Carson Ballard was 3-for-6 with a homer and four RBIs in a doubleheader sweep of Walker. The Wolves took Game 1, 6-5, then won Game 2, 11-7. .... Saint Anne-Pacelli outscored Aquinas by a combined 25-1 to sweep its second round series. .... After a two-game sweep of Kings Ridge Christian on Thursday, Athens Christian is back in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2017. .... Fellowship Christian pitching dominated in a sweep of Prince Avenue Christian. In a 4-0 win in Game 1, Jason Gilley fired a two-hit shutout. Then in Game 2, Grant Hudson hurled a three-hit shutout in a 3-0 victory. .... Tattnall Square rolled to a sweep of Savannah Country Day and are in the quarterfinals for the sixth straight season, Since joining the GHSA in 2015, Tattnall has never had a season end before the semifinal round.

QUARTERFINAL ROUND MATCHUPS: Wesleyan at Savannah Christian; Saint Anne-Pacelli at Athens Christian; Tattnall Square at Mount Paran Christian; Calvary Day at Fellowship Christian