GHSA first round recap

Posted 4/30/2022


Class 7A

It's no secret some of the top baseball was played in Region 5 this season. In fact, Woodstock, Etowah and Cherokee entered the final week of the regular-season in a three-way tie for the top spot before Woodstock finished as the region champion, Etowah took two of three from Cherokee who was No. 1 for a few weeks this season to finish second, while Cherokee finished third.

All four teams from that region, including No. 4 seeded Alpharetta, advanced to the second round of the Georgia High School Association state baseball playoffs to show the region's strength.

Woodstock will play host to North Cobb in the second round, Etowah will visit Walton, Cherokee will visit Lowndes and Alpharetta will visit Colquitt County.

This and That: Twelve of the 16 series in the classification were sweeps. ....Two region champions were upset in the first round - Region 7 champion Dunwoody lost to Alpharetta in three games, while Region 8 No. 4 North Gwinnett needed three games to oust Region 6 champion Denmark. .... Region 4 champion Parkview has won 10 straight, including a two-game sweep of McEachern in its first round series. During that 10-game winning streak, the Panthers recorded a 9-2 victory over nationally-ranked Buford. ....Colquitt County, who swept Harrison in its first-round series, is in the second round of the state playoffs for the first time since the 2018 season.

Best First-Round Series: North Forsyth at Mill Creek - After splitting a pair of games on Wednesday, Mill Creek used a walk-off strikeout in the bottom of the seventh to defeat North Forsyth 4-3 and win the series. Tied at three with two outs and the bases loaded, Cole Mullins struck out but the ball slipped past the catcher, then Mullins beat the throw to first base as the winning run scored. “I can’t say I’ve ever seen that happen,” Mill Creek coach Doug Jones told Ken Chrzanowski of the Gwinnett Daily Post. “But I’m glad it happened tonight.”

Upset Special: Campbell at Brookwood - The third-seeded Spartans from Region 2 upended Brookwood in the first round, one of the few times Brookwood has had its season end in the first round. The reward for Campbell? A second round home-playoff series against North Gwinnett, who pulled off perhaps the biggest upset of the classification when they stunned Denmark in three games.

First Round bullies: Parkview - The defending Class 7A champions run-ruled McEachern in a pair of victories by a combined 24-4. 

Looking ahead to Round 2: Some intriguing series are ahead, but Cherokee at Lowndes could top the list. The Warriors have cooled off of late, but they were ranked No. 1 for a few weeks of the season and are still a dangerous team. Nobody may be playing better than No. 2-ranked Lowndes, who has been led by the two-headed pitching monster of lefty Mason Steele and right-hander Williams Joyner.


Class 6A

Region 2 showed its strength in the first round as Richmond Hill, Glynn Academy, Effingham County and South Effingham all won their first round playoff games.

Region 5 didn't do bad either as South Paulding, Carrollton and Alexander all punched tickets to the next round.

This and That: Fourteen of the 16 series in Class 6A were sweeps. The only series that needed decisive Game 3s were Carrollton-Sequoyah and Lassiter-Winder-Barrow. .... Westlake was the only region champion not to survive the first round. The Region 4 champion Lions were swept by South Effingham in their first round series. After needing to beat Kell in a Region 6 mini-playoff last Saturday to qualify for the state playoffs, fourth-seeded Kennesaw Mountain was no match for Buford, who swept past the Mustangs.

Best First-Round Series: Lassiter at Winder-Barrow - Class 6A had very little drama, but the defending Class 6A state runner-up Trojans ousted Winder-Barrow in three games. 

Upset Special: Alexander at River Ridge - Nobody saw this one coming. The Cougars not only defeated the Region 7 champion Knights in Game 1, but they kept their momentum going in the second game to sweep River Ridge.

First Round bullies: Evans - The surging Knights pounded Northside-Warner Robins, run-ruling the Eagles twice and winning the series by a combined 25-0. 

Looking ahead to Round 2: Lassiter at Richmond Hill -  The Wildcats feel like they have something special this season, but the Region 2 champions will need to hold back Lassiter to make a run. The Trojans, who lost a wealth of talent from last year's state runner-up team, are playing their best baseball at the tight time.


Class 5A

After graduation took a bite of Starr's Mill state championship team last year, the Panthers started slowly but finished strong to earn the third seed from Region 2. Starr's Mill extended its season by stunning Locust Grove in a first-round sweep Wednesday night.

Five teams in the final 16 teams in Class 5A have won a state baseball title in the past decade - Starr's Mill, Cartersville, Greenbrier, Blessed Trinity and Loganville.

This and That: Fourteen of the 16 first-round series in Class 5A were sweeps. The only series that needed decisive Game 3s were Woodward Academy-Veterans and St. Pius X-Woodland-Bartow.... The only region champion to get upset in the first round was Region 3 champion Woodward Academy, who was eliminated by Veterans in three games .... After surviving Woodland, St. Pius X will play host to Wayne County in a rematch of the 2021 Class 5A quarterfinal round series that St. Pius X won in Jesup. .... North Springs swept Jackson County and ran its winning streak to 11 games. .... Apalachee swept Chapel Hill in the first round and will make its first trip to the second round of the state baseball playoffs for the first time in the school's history.

Best First-Round Series: Woodland at St. Pius X - After winning Game 1, 2-0, St. Pius X lost on a walkoff to Woodland in Game 2 to set up a winner-take-all Game 3. The Golden Lions scored a 2-1 victory in the decisive Game 3 to win the series and advance.

Upset Special: Veterans at Woodward Academy - The surging Warhawks needed eight innings in Game 3 to eliminate the Region 3 champions.

First Round bullies: Harris County- The Tigers took a pair of easy victories over Jones County, pounding the Greyhounds by a combined 27-5.

Looking ahead to Round 2: Take your pick, but Apalachee at Whitewater, Coffee at Cartersville and Harris County at Loganville are all intriguing, but Blessed Trinity at Ware County, has all the makings of a state championship-type series. The Titans will make the near five-hour drive south to the Okefenokee Swamp to face a Ware County squad hungry to show last year's semifinal run was no fluke.


Class 4A

With the exception of North Oconee and Perry who have won 28 games and 10 games straight respectively, no team in Class 4A is hotter than Druid Hills. The Red Devils have been pretty impressive since dropping a pair of region games to Region 6 champion and defending state champion Marist in late March.

But Druid Hills signaled that their 17-6 record was no fluke in the first round of the playoffs when they sent Region 8 No. 3 seed Jefferson packing. The Red Devils won Game 1, 7-4, then stunned the Dragons 7-2 in the second game to pull off the sweep.

The Dragons wil look to cool off Perry in the second round, who have won 10 straight.

This and That: Fifteen of the 16 first-round series in Class 4A were sweeps. The only series that needed decisive a Game 3 was Northwest Whitfield-Fayette County. .... North Oconee hasn't lost since the second week of the regular season when they suffered a 9-6 setback to Class 6A Lassiter. The Titans scored a pair of shutouts in the first round to sweep Mays and end the high school career of Mays' Termarr Johnson who is expected to be a top draft pick in the June Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. .... Jefferson's first-round loss ends legendary head coach Tommy Knight's prep coaching career. Knight, who guided the Dragons to a Class 4A title in 2018, is retiring. .... Pickens won its first baseball playoff series in school history when they swept Luella. 

Best First-Round Series: West Laurens at Troup County - Both made solid postseason runs last year and it's a shame one of these had to lose. Troup County swept the series, erupting for a 16-8 victory in Game 1 followed by a 9-7 victory in the nightcap.

Upset Special: Heritage-Catoosa at Hampton - Heritage-Catoosa, the No. 4 seed from Region 7, swept the Region 5 champion Hornets. It is the second straight year Heritage has eliminated Hampton. Heritage put the Hornets out in the second round in 2021. 

First Round bullies: Benedictine - The Cadets hammered Westover by a combined 33-2 in a sweep.

Looking ahead to Round 2: Flowery Branch at LaGrange - Since April began, LaGrange has won 11 of its last 12 games. Flowery Branch is just as hot, winning 11 of its last 13. Something will have to give here.


Class 3A

Cherokee Bluff and Sandy Creek's first round playoff series won the "Late Night Series" crown this weekend. When the Bears held on for a 16-10 victory to sweep Sandy Creek in Game 2, the final out was recorded a few minutes after midnight on Saturday, April 30. When it was all said and done, the Bears advanced to the second round for the third time in as many tries. 

The school opened in 2018-19 and the Bears are making a habit of solid postseason runs. Cherokee Bluff will make the long trek to Blackshear to face second-ranked Pierce County in the second round.

This and That: Fifteen of the 16 first-round series in Class 3A were sweeps. The only series that needed a decisive Game 3 was Upson Lee-Burke County. The Bears won Game 3, 10-4 to eliminate Upson Lee on Saturday. .... Region 6 champion Rockmart was the only region champion not to make it to the next round. The Yellow Jackets were swept by Stephens County. .... For the second straight year, Region 1 has three teams still playing -- Pierce County, Appling County and Long County. .... Pierce County didn't get to play after Johnson-Savannah forfeited both its games. .... Harlem will meet Ringgold in the playoffs for the second straight year. The two met in the quarterfinals last year with Ringgold winning 2 of 3 to advance to the semifinals.

Best First-Round Series: East Forsyth at Greater Atlanta Christian - The upstart Broncos, in their first season, gave GAC all it could handle before the Spartans claimed a couple of one-run victories to sweep the series.

Upset Special: Morgan County at Mary Persons - After having a 23-game winning streak after a loss on opening day, Mary Persons dropped four of its last five games, including a sweep against the Region 4 No. 3 seed. By the way, the team that started Mary Persons' 2022 campaign off with a loss was none other than Morgan County.

First Round bullies: Appling County - The Pirates routed Windsor Forest, combining to score 40 runs in the two-game sweep. That series was ugly.

Looking ahead to Round 2: Sonoraville at Pike County- Sonoraville pulled the other stunner in the first round, sweeping a pair of games from Oconee County. Pike County has won 18 of its past 19, but Sonoraville has won nine straight. The Phoenix won't be intimidated in Zebulon. 


Class 2A

There isn't a team hotter in Class 2A than Vidalia. The Indians have won 18 straight since starting the season at a dismal 3-9. The team lone all-everything Landry Mead to graduation last year, but the Indians have proven they could be just as good or better than the 2021 squad that lost in the quarterfinals to Lovett.

The biggest strength for the Indians has been a lethal pitching staff that has plenty of talent. The offense isn't too shabby as they exploded for 30 runs in a sweep of Putnam County in the first round. 

Look for Round 2 to be much tougher against Banks County, the Region 8 runner-up. 

This and That: Thirteen of the 16 first-round series in Class 2A were sweeps.  .... Toombs County needed three games to oust Oglethorpe County, Pepperell upended Bremen in three games and Coosa staved off Haralson County in three games. .... Behind Game 1 starter Game Duncan, Thomasville ended Dodge County's season for the second straight year. The Bulldogs have won 14 in a row. .... Justin Moore's 1-0 pitching gem in a Game 1 victory over Fannin County helped Callaway set the tone for a sweep of Fannin. .... Jeff Davis swept Westside-Augusta, ending the coaching career of Gerald Barnes. The legendary coach of the Patriots is one of just two in state history to win 900 or games. He announced he is retiring.

Best First-Round Series: Toombs County at Oglethorpe- Two evenly-matched teams staged a back-and-forth series before the Bulldogs finally prevailed in Game 3.

Upset Special: Pepperell at Bremen - Bremen defeated Pepperell 6-4 in the two team's lone meeting during the regular season in February. However, the Dragons outslugged Bremen in three games to advance.

First Round bullies: Elbert County - The Blue Devils, the Region 8 champion, routed Therrell by a combined 34-0 in a series sweep. No, those weren't football scores.

Looking ahead to Round 2: Jeff Davis at Elbert County Several excellent matchups to choose from in Round 2, but Jeff Davis visits Elbert County in a rematch of the 2018 Class 2A state championship series that Jeff Davis won, the first of two in a three-year span. The Yellow Jackets appear to be hitting their stride as usual, but Elbert County is as good as advertised.


Class 1A Public

Wilcox County hopes to avoid what happened to Buford last year. The Wolves were undefeated until Pope defeated them in Game 2 of their second round Class 6A series. Pope then took Game 3 to eliminate Buford.

The Patriots are 27-0 and the last undefeated team in the state. After a pair of wins over Clinch County in the first round, Wilcox County will play host to Social Circle in the second round. The Patriots have been impressive so far.

No team since Evans High in 1989 has finished a season undefeated.

This and That: Thirteen of the 16 first-round series in Class 1A Public were sweeps.   .... All four Region 3 teams (Metter, Claxton, Bryan County and ECI) advanced to the second round, while Regfion 7 (ACE Charter, Crawford County and GMC) and Region 8 (Commerce, Washington-Wilkes and Social Circle) have three teams each still playing. .... Metter and Charlton County have streaks of 13 and 11 victories respectively. .... Baconton Charter was the lone region champion in Class 1A Public not to advcance. The Blazers were swept by ECI.

Best First-Round Series: GMC at Marion County- Marion County had the momentum after a 4-2 Game 1 victory. Then GMC used a walk-off solo homer from Trey Woods in the 10th inning to win Game 2, 3-2. Marion was never the same as GMC outslugged them 26-12 in a decisive Game 3 to win the series and advance.

Upset Special: Social Circle at Trion - The Redskins got the best of Trion in a three-game set, eliminating the Region 6 runner-ups. 

First Round bullies: Metter - The defending state champions routed Pelham by a combined 28-2 to sweep the series. Kaliq Jordan's walk-off grand slam in Game 1 ended the game, mercifully.

Looking ahead to Round 2: Washington-Wilkes at Charlton County The Tigers must survive the near five-hour trek into the heart of the Okefenokee Swamp to tackle Charlton County. Washington-Wilkes has the arms behind left-handers Nathan Durham and Robert Hunt, but Charlton County is playing as good as anybody.


Class 1A Private

Fellowship Christian was concerned its baseball field wouldn't be complete in time before its first round series with Athens Christian. The Paladins were having new artificial turf installed on Winchester Field at Paladin Park.

The Paladins christened their new field with a pair of impressive victories over Athens Christian to advance to the second round where they will look for more victories on their new field this season. Fellowship will entertain Trinity Christian, who swept a pair of games from Landmark Christian.

This and That: Thirteen of the 16 first-round series in Class 1A Private were sweeps.  .... North Cobb Christian needed three games to oust Holy Innocents' in its first round series, Savannah Christian needed three to top Deerfield-Windsor and Mount Pisgah sent George Walton out of the playoffs in three games. .... Calvary Day notched its 15th and 16th straight victories with a pair of wins over Strong Rock Christian. .... Wesleyan and Mount Paran Christian have each won 12 straight .... Tattnall Square is in the second round for the seventh straight season since joining the Georgia High School Association in 2015. During that span, the Trojans have never lost before the quarterfinals. .... Deerfield-Windsor recorded its first playoff win as a member of the GHSA in Game 1 when the Knights took a 6-2 victory. Savannah Christian, however, battled back to win the next two games to take the series.

Best First-Round Series: Holy Innocents' at North Cobb Christian -- The Golden Bears gave North Cobb Christian all it could handle before the Eagles prevailed in three games.

Upset Special: None -- All higher seeds won in first round of Class 1A Private classification.

First Round bullies: Wesleyan - The Wolves easily ran past Christian Heritage by a combined 31-4 in a sweep.

Looking ahead to Round 2: Tattnall Square at Mount Paran Christian - Both teams are good enough to challenge for a state championship. In 2021, Tattnall Square was the only team to beat Mount Paran Christian in the state playoffs, winning Game 1 of the series before the Eagles rallied to win Games 2 and 3 and take the series en route to the state championship. This will be a good one.