First-round wrapup: 5-HR days, no-hitters don’t always end well
The first round of the state baseball playoffs is in the books.
Two players on losing teams deserve shout-outs for great efforts, even if things didn’t work out in the end.
The first is Westminster freshman Parker Harber. The third baseman hit five home runs in Friday’s doubleheader at Greater Atlanta Christian. The next day in Game 3, his team surrendered a 3-0 lead and lost 9-3. Harber relieved in the seventh and was part of GAC’s 9-run comeback.
Then there was North Murray senior Blake Davis. He threw a no-hitter Saturday in the deciding Game 3 against Hart County. But Davis’s North Murray team lost 2-1 in Davis’s final high school game.
Here are some class-by-class highlights of last week’s games. The second round begins Friday.
-Mountain View was the only road team in the highest classification to advance. The Bears defeated No. 9 Archer 1-2, 4-1, 5-4. Cleanup hitter Jackson Peck hit a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the seventh to win Game 3. Mason Goolsby, the No. 9 hitter, had opened the inning with a single and scored the winning run. Gino Palomba hit a grand slam in the third inning.
-The most exciting finish of a first-round series in this class took place in Kingsland, where Camden County beat North Cobb 8-7 in Game 3. North Cobb had led 5-2 in the second inning, 6-5 in the sixth and 7-6 in the seventh, but Camden got two in the bottom of the seventh to win. Pinch-hitter Jordan Brown hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly for the game-winner. Tim Parker had the only hit in the inning. Three batters were walked, including Ian Smith, who was 3-for-3 with a pair of walks and three runs scored.
-Best matchups of the second round are No. 3 Mill Creek at No. 1 Walton and No. 6 Lassiter at No. 2 North Gwinnett. All four of those teams swept easily in the first round.
-No. 3 Winder-Barrow, given a nasty draw as the Region 8 champion, advanced with a 3-2, 8-0 sweep of fourth-ranked Harrison. Darrell Woodall pitched a one-hit shutout with nine strikeouts in Game 2. Zach Smith homered. Game 1 was won in the bottom of the eighth on Beau Hanna’s sacrifice fly that scored Skylor Murphy, who led off with a double.
-No. 5 Dalton beat No. 7 Gainesville on the road 10-3, 2-3, 10-1. Harrrison Hughes pitched a six-hitter in Game 3, and big series were had by J.P. Tighe (6-for-13, seven RBI, three doubles), Sam Stepp (5-for-12, two doubles) and Thomas Wright (5-for-10, two doubles).
-In addition to Dalton, road winners were Valdosta, Johns Creek and Effingham County.
-The best matchup of the second round is No. 6 Northview at No. 8 Lee County. Both won easily in first-round sweeps.
-Wayne County, the Region 2 champion, beat ninth-ranked Jones County 4-17, 5-1, 5-4. In Game 3, Jones County had trailed 3-0 but went up 4-3 in the seventh inning, only to surrender two runs in the bottom of the seventh on two walks and two bunt singles (by Griffin Boykin, J.T. Crosby) and one hit to center field (by pinch-hitter Grant Starling). Starling was the winning pitcher.
-Fifth-ranked Harris County beat eighth-ranked Griffin 4-3, 6-3. Harris County gets another ranked team in the second round. Carrollton is No. 4 and will have home-field advantage.
-Ola, Flowery Branch and Kell won road series thanks to great pitching. Kell’s Jake Lecroy threw a 1-hitter with nine strikeouts against Chamblee. Ola’s Coston Anderson (5-hitter) and Jordan Armstrong (4-hitter) threw shutouts against South Effingham. Flowery Branch’s Preston Felt and Andrew Armstrong (5-hitter) teamed up to shut out Riverwood.
-Another good second-round matchup will be No. 10 Kell at No. 1 Starr’s Mill.
-In the most anticipated matchup of the first round in any classification, No. 1 Blessed Trinity swept No. 2 Cartersville 4-1 and 9-0. Peyton Glavine was the Game 1 winner. He struck out eight. Patrick McNamara pitched a three-hit shutout in Game 2. He struck out nine. David Dunn was 4-for-8 with two doubles and a triple in the series. Colin Davis was 4-for-5 and two double and five RBI.
-The most remarkable AAAA series took place in Tunnel Hill, where visiting Stephens County beat Nothwest Whitfield 10-9 in Game 3. It went 10 innings. Northwest scored three runs in the top of the ninth, but Stephens County matched those, forcing a 10th frame. Northwest scored three runs again, but Stephens County scored four, largely taking advantage of Northwest walks. Stephens County used six pitchers. No. 9 hitter Dylan Huff was 4-for-5 with three runs scored. Cleanup hitter Kole Rogers was 2-for-4 with four RBI.
-Region 1 swept Region 3. Advancing were No. 1 seed Cairo, No. 2 Columbus, No.3 Hardaway and No. 4 Northside-Hardaway.
-Unranked Marist beat fifth-ranked Cedartown 4-1 and 7-1 and will play at No. 8 Cairo this week. Another top series will be No. 9 Heritage-Ringgold at No. 4 Woodward Academy.
-Westminster freshman Parker Harber hit five home runs in the Friday double-header split with Greater Atlanta Christian, but GAC survived and won 9-3 in Game 3 on Saturday, scoring nine runs in the seventh inning – most of them against Haber. On Friday, Harber was 6-for-6 with five homers, a single, eight RBI and six runs scored. He also walked and was hit by a pitch. And he made a leaping catch of a line drive at third base and started a double play. But, the clock struck midnight late in Game 3. GAC trailed 3-0 entering the seventh inning against the defending Class AAA champions – then scored nine runs to win. Seven runs were charged to Harber, who relieved. Harber went 0-or-2 at the plate. “I didn’t know he pitched,” GAC coach Robbie Wilson told the Gwinnett Daily Post. “What he did yesterday, I’ve never seen anything like it. Hats off to him for the series that he had. He’s going to be a tremendous player for them.”
-No. 1 North Hall beat No. 7 Pace 3-7, 4-1, 6-5 in another outstanding first-round series. Jackson Latty, Charlie Erickson and Taber Mongero each went 2-for-3 in Game 3. Mongero pitched six strong innings and got the win. Pace scored two runs in the top of the seventh but fell a run short of tying. Reese Olson pitched a complete-game seven-hitter in North Hall’s Game 2 win.
-North Murray pitcher Blake Davis pitched a no-hitter in Game 3, but Hart County won 2-1 to advance. North Murray allowed two base runners on errors in Hart’s two-run fifth inning. Davis also walked a batter who scored. Reece Whitworth was the winning pitcher. He allowed only two hits. Chase Dalton was 3-for-4 with two doubles in a must-win Game 2.
– Region 8 swept Region 6, going 8-0 in games and outscoring their Atlanta foes 106-3. Advancing were No. 1 seed Elbert County, No. 2 Social Circle, No. 3 Banks County and No. 4 Rabun County.
-Region 2 swept Region 4, going 8-0 in games and outscoring their Augusta-and-vicinity foes 69-23. Advancing were No. 1 seed Jeff Davis, No. 2 Benedictine, No. 3 Bacon County and No. 4 Toombs County. Region 4 is actually pretty good, but Region 2 has three ranked teams, including No. 7 Bacon County, which defeated sixth-ranked Harlem 4-2, 5-4.
-Best series of the second round should be No. 5 Benedictine at No. 1 Elbert County and No. 4 Heard County at No. 9 Bleckley County.
-Lots of blowouts in the first round, making one wonder if the expansion to 24 playoff teams from 16 was necessary in baseball, but a couple of road teams did win – Walker over Aquinas 11-2, 4-1 (private) and Clinch County over Jenkins County 13-6, 10-6 (public).
-There are three second-round series matching ranked public teams: No. 5 Trion at No. 2 Schley County, No. 8 Telfair County at No. 3 Emanuel County Institute and No. 4 Bowdon at No. 6 Charlton County. There are two on the private side: No. 8 Athens Christian at No. 9 Strong Rock Christian and No. 7 Calvary Day at No. 1 Holy Innocents’.