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Todd Holcomb

Baseball ticker: Secret to No. 1 Whitewater … Mill Creek pitcher sizzles … Sprayberry slugger hitting .658 … Beer rated top sophomore …

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If any Georgia baseball team has bruised knuckles from knocking at the door, it’s Whitewater.

The Wildcats have reached the state semifinals five straight times. They’re looking for their first championship.

The current team is 11-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA under first-year coach Rusty Bennett, who came from Decatur and replaced Mark Jones, who got out of coaching.

‘’We’re just playing well top to bottom,’’ Bennett said. “We took on the motto of not singling anybody out, playing for each other. That’s what they’ve bought into from day one.’’

Pitching is the key ingredient. Ten pitchers have gotten innings, and the team ERA is 1.60. They’ve struck out 104 while walking only 15.

Jake Lee, a junior who is committed to Georgia Tech, is 1-0 with an 0.50 ERA with 15 strikeouts over 13 innings. Junior lefthander Ethan Gillis, committed to Kennesaw State, is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 13 innings. Johnathan Hendershot, a senior, is 3-0 with an 1.05 ERA with 28 strikeouts over 20 innings. Seniors Chandler Raiden and lefty Christian Aragon have signed with Andrew College.

At least three senior position players are likely to play in college. They are first baseman/catcher Taylor Turner (signed with North Georgia, hitting .405), infielder Caleb Norton (Piedmont) and catcher Evan Mask (undecided).

‘’It’s one of first teams I’ve been around where top to bottom, they’re cohesive,’’ Bennett said. “We don’t have any individuals. It’s not a flashy bunch. If you come see us play, we’re just a good baseball team.’’

Whitewater will play fifth-ranked Starr’s Mill on Feb. 28.

Moore’s last three starts: no-hitter, 1-hitter, 2-hitter

Mountain View pitcher A.J. Moore, who has committed to Kennesaw State, is a likely MLB draftee, and he’s showing why. He’s 4-0 with an 0.57 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 24.1 innings. He’s allowed only seven hits and two runs. In his last three starts, he’s won with a no-hitter (vs. Eastside), a one-hitter (vs. Gainesville, ranked No. 1 at the time in AAAAA) and a two-hitter against (vs. Peachtree Ridge).  Mountain View, ranked fifth in Class AAAAAA, was 10-1 overall entering Friday’s home game against Mill Creek.

Spayberry’s Chavis, Gauvreau off to torrid starts

Shortstop Michael Chavis, a Clemson signee, is batting .658 (25-for-38) with five home runs for 7-4 Sprayberry. Chavis had four homers in a four-game stretch earlier this month. Chavis won the Rawlings Home Run Challenge at the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego in August. “He’s one of them kids that if you coach another 15 years, you wouldn’t get to coach another one of him,’’ Sprayberry coach Phil Henderson said. Another top performer is junior pitcher Bobby Gauvreau, who has committed to Georgia Tech. Gauvreau, who has three home runs of his own, threw a four-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory over Creekview on Thursday. He struck out 12. He’s 3-1 with only one earned run allowed in 21.2 innings.

Lambert’s Beer rated top Georgia sophomore

Five Georgia players made MaxPreps’ list of the top 50 sophomore players in the country. Pitcher/right fielder Seth Beer is No. 5 overall. That might be not be high enough. He was rated second in the class of 2016 by Perfect Game before the season. Other Georgia players on the list are No. 13 Will Benson (Westminster first baseman), No. 28 Cameron Shepherd (Peachtree Ridge shortstop/pitcher), No. 39 Taylor Trammell (Mount Paran Christian outfielder) and No. 44 Garrett Gooden (St. Pius pitcher).

Pair of aces in Rabun County

Rabun County is 7-1 overall, 3-0 in Region 8-AA, and getting outstanding pitching. Jesse Rentz, a senior righthander, is 3-0 with an 0.39 ERA. He’s struck out 29 in 18 innings while allowing eight hits and seven walks. Rentz has signed with Kennesaw State. Junior righthander Scott Stetson is 4-0 with an 0.68 ERA. He’s struck out 28 in 21 innings while allowing 10 hits and four walks.

Norcross: Two .400 hitters, one 0.00 ERA

Norcross has a couple of .400 hitters and a pitcher with a 0.00 ERA during its 7-4 start. Jordyn Thomas hasn’t allowed an earned run over 14.2 innings, though he did get a loss because of two unearned runs. Catcher Griffin Helms, who will play at Kennesaw State, is batting .425 (17-of-40) with the team’s only two home runs. He’s stolen 10 bases. Jascanel Ferreras, a senior first baseman who has signed with Georgia State, is batting .405 (15-for-37). Shorstop Trevor Craport, a Georgia Tech signee, is batting .488 (12-for-33) with 12 runs and five stolen bases.

Tattnall County rallies from down 11-1 to win

Tattnall County trailed 11-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning of its game Thursday against Brantley County and was  three outs from being run-ruled – and won 14-13. Tattnall scored eight runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to win it. Peyton Knight, Tattnall’s No. 8 hitter, was 3-for-5 and had a two-run double in the sixth. Ethan Alexander was 2-for-3 and had a two-run single in the seventh. The tying and winning runs came on a two-out error on the game’s final play. Game lasted 3 hours, 6 minutes.

Northview pitcher strikes out 12

Northview pitcher Dave Ehmen threw a three-hitter, striking out 12, in a 3-0 victory over Kell this week. Wilkens didn’t walk a batter. He has signed with Wofford.

Mays sophomore Curry has 48 SO, 29 IP

Mays sophomore pitcher Xzavion Curry has struck out 48 batters in 29 innings. He’s struck out 14 in a game twice (vs. Grady, North Springs). Curry 2-1 with one save and an 0.97 ERA. Meanwhile, shortstop Isaiah Lewis is batting .527. Mays is 8-2-1.

Benedictine sophomore throws 1-hitter

Benedictine sophomore Chipper Wiley pitched a six-inning shutout against Toombs County this week in a 10-0 victory. Wiley faced 20 batters, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out 13. Wiley is 4-1 for the season. The Cadets are 8-3 overall, 6-0 in Region 2-AA.

Six HR in 11 games for Brookstone slugger

Brookstone junior first baseman Andrew Hamric is hitting.412 with 6 home runs and 28 RBI through 11 games. That’s nearly one home run for every five at bats and almost three RBI per game during Brookstone’s 8-3 start. Another junior, pitcher Jarrod Little, has given up two hits in 17 innings. Little is 3-0 with 17 strikeouts and a 0.00 ERA. He has wins against Wesleyan, LaGrange and Marion County.

Two signees at Douglas County

Douglas County has two players that have signed. David Ihrig, a senior pitcher, who will attend Reinhardt University, is leading the team in hitting at .360 (9-for-25). Logan Tillem, a senior outfielder, will be attending Andrew College. He’s batting .267 with a team-leading six stolen bases. A future signee might be freshman, Mike Wright, who is 11-for-33 (.333) with three doubles. Douglas County is 6-4.

Todd Holcomb will be writing baseball blogs on Tuesdays and Fridays. To have information included, e-mail him at ghsfdaily@bellsouth.net. Statistics must be verified.

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