State finals previews: Nine schools can win first-ever state titles

Here’s a look at the eight state baseball finals with the updated, rain-altered schedule below.

They get underway Wednesday afternoon with a 5 p.m. double-header in Rome between Etowah and Woodstock in Class AAAAAAA.

The delayed AAAAAA semifinal series between Lee County and Johns Creek, scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed again until Friday because of rain. The Class AAAAAA final now will be moved from neutral Rome and be played next week at Pope or Lee County (decided by a coin flip if Lee advances). Johns Ceek, a No. 3 seed, cannot host.

Nine schools have a chance to win their first-ever state titles in baseball this week. They include guaranteed first-time champs in AAAAAAA (Etowah-Woodstock), AAA (Pierce County-North Hall),  and AA (Elbert County-Jeff Davis). Savannah Christian (A private), Johns Creek and Lee County also have never won state titles.

For a review of the first four rounds, check out these –

Semifinals

Quarterfinals

Second round

First round

Woodstock vs. Etowah (AAAAAAA): The winner will be the first Cheokee County baseball champion since old Canton High in 1948. They tied for third in Region 4 with 7-8 records, and each has won four straight rounds on the road to get to the finals. Neither is ranked. Etowah is 26-16. Woodstock is 26-15. Etowah features CF Drew Waters, a potential first-round MLB Draft pick next month. Waters says the toughest pitcher he’s ever faced is Woodstock’s 6-foot-6 Brant hurter, who has signed with Georgia Tech.

Pope vs. Lee County/Johns Creek (AAAAAA):  Pope (32-6) – a state power from baseball rich East Cobb – is ranked No. 1. The Greyhounds won state titles in 2009 and 2013 and were runner-up last year. Pope players to watch include pithing ace Ryan Webb (Geogia) and third baseman Jared Miller (Notre Dame). They’ll meet the winner of Friday’s belated Game 3 between Lee County and Johns Creek, which have never won state titles.

Wayne County vs. Loganville (AAAAA): Wayne County (28-12) is the Region 2 champion. The Yellow Jackets have won survived three Game 3 situations, twice by one run, once on a Wayne County throw to the plate to end the game, another on a walk-off hit by Cade Lambert. Wayne County won its only baseball state title 40 years ago. Loganville, the Region 8 champion, also has won three times in Game 3, although handily each time. Loganville (28-13) has scored 82 runs in 11 playoff games. Loganville won state titles in 2008 and 2012.

Blessed Trinity vs. Marist (AAAA): These are the 1-2 teams from Region 7, and they’ve cruised through the playoffs with a combined 16-1 record. Blessed Trinity (35-4) was 3-0 against Marist in the regular season, but Marist (23-16) is 11-2 since then. Marist has shut out five of its last nine opponents. Joseph Mannelly, a Georgia Tech commit, is outstanding as a hitter and pitcher. Jamie Taylor also is committed to Tech. Marist has won 12 state titles in baseball, the last in 2011. Blessed Trinity is seeking its third title in four seasons. The Titans are ranked No. 20 in MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25. BT’s rotation features Peyton Glavine (11-1, 0.98), Patrick McNanara (10-1, 0.63) and Cole McNamee (9-0, 0.79).

Pierce County vs. North Hall (AAA): North Hall (29-11) is ranked No. 1. Pierce County (28-7) is No. 2. Neither has won a state title in baseball. North Hall is 8-1 in these state playoffs. Pierce County is 8-0. Neither team allowed an earned  run in semifinal sweeps. Pierce got complete games from Cody Williams and Cody Grant, who allowed five hits total against Coahulla Creek of northwest Georgia. North Hall got complete games from Reese Olson and Corban Meeler, who allowed six hits total against Calhoun of nothwest Georgia. What’s different is that North Hall was seeded only third in tough Region 8 and had to win three rounds on the road.

Jeff Davis vs. Elbert County (AA): Neither has won a state title in baseball. Elbert County (33-6) is ranked No. 1 and is 8-1 in these playoffs. Jeff Davis (30-8) is No. 3 and 8-0. Elbert’s rotation is Colton Moon (12-1, 0.71), Bryce Bolton (8-0, 1.05) and Daniel Lavender (6-0, 0.70). Bryce Bowen has 11 homers.

Tattnall Square vs. Savannah Christian (A private): Tattnall Square is the only defending champion still playing in any classification. Tattnall, of Macon, is 30-3 and coming off a sweep of No. 1-ranked Holy Innocents’ in the semifinals. Mercer-signee Matt Blair pitched a two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in the opener. Savannah Christian (31-3), the No. 1 seed, has never won a state title and would become the first Savannah champ since Calvary Day in 2007. Savannah Christian has won 15 straight games, 29 straight against Georgia opponents. In a sweep of Athens Christian, Savannah Christian’s Zack Brockman pitched a one-hitter and struck out eight in Game 1, and Kyle Hilton pitched a three-hitter with seven strikeouts and no walks in Game 2.

Schley County vs. Gordon Lee (A public): Schley County, ranked No. 2, was the Class A public-school champion in 2015. Gordon Lee, ranked No. 1, won state titles in 1979 and 1984. Schley has scored 53 runs in six playoff games, all victories. The Wildcats (32-2) have won 24 straight games, including a 2-1 win over Lee County on March 29. Gordon Lee (27-6) has scored 52 in seven games.

The GHSA released the schedule for the eight state baseball finals on Friday.

They will be played at Rome’s State Mutual Stadium, home of the Rome Braves, and Savannah’s Grayson Stadium, home of the Savannah Bananas.

Team on the right is home.

The AAAAA final series will be played next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wednesday
In Rome

Class AAAAAAA
Game 1 – 5 p.m. (Etowah vs. Woodstock)
Game 2 – 8 p.m. (Woodstock vs. Etowah)

Thursday
In Rome

Class A Public
Game 1 – 11 a.m. (Schley County vs. Gordon Lee)
Game 2 – 2 p.m. (Gordon Lee vs. Schley County)

Class AAAA
Game 1 – 5 p.m. (Blessed Trinity vs. Marist)
Game 2 – 8 p.m. (Marist vs. Blessed Trinity)

In Savannah
Class AAA
Game 1 – 11 a.m. (Pierce County vs. North Hall)
Game 2 – 2 p.m. (North Hall vs. Pierce County)

Class AAAAA
Game 1 – 5 p.m. (Wayne County vs. Loganville)
Game 2 – 8 p.m. (Loganville vs. Wayne County)

Friday
In Savannah
Class AA
Game 1 – 10 a.m. (Jeff Davis vs. Elbert County)
Game 2 – 1 p.m. (Elbert County vs. Jeff Davis)

Class A Private
Game 1 – 4 p.m. (Savannah Christian vs. Tattnall Square)
Game 2 – 7 p.m. (Tattnall Square vs. Savannah Christian)

Saturday
All “if-necessary’’ games, schedule to be determined


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