Two rounds of the state high school baseball tournament are complete. The quarterfinals are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday on the path to crowning eight state champions later this month.
Here’s a look back at seven of the best series from the rounds of 16:
*Hillgrove d. Woodstock 2-14, 13-9, 4-3 (AAAAAAA): Hillgrove, ranked No. 3 by MaxPreps, won a deciding Game 3 for the second straight round. This time, the Hawks won the clincher in 11 innings against No. 7 Woodstock, a semifinalist (or better) the past two seasons. With the score 3-3, Jack Gilsenan opened the 11th with a double, and Ethan Wright drove him in with a single. In the bottom of the inning, Hillgrove quickly got two outs but walked the bases loaded before Brennan Richardson got a ground out to second base to end the game. Fred Wilson pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing just one run, and got the win despite getting a little loose in the final frame. Hillgrove’s Deion Walker went 3-for-5 in the game, 5-for-8 in the series.
*Etowah d. Kennesaw Mountain 3-5, 7-6, 8-5 (AAAAAAA): No. 5 Etowah and No. 10 Kennesaw Mountain had three competitive games. The best was Game 2, which went 11 innings and ended when Etowah scored two runs. Michael Sharman’s infield single scored the winning run in a walk-off at-bat. Sharman also was the winning pitcher as he pitched the final four innings, allowing no earned runs and striking out five. Etowah then trailed 4-0 early in Game 3, but a five-run third put the Eagles in control. Nick Block was 3-for-3 with a triple and three RBI.
*Pope d. Dacula 11-6, 5-7, 1-0 (AAAAAA): Pope, the defending Class AAAAAA champion, won a one-run game in Game 3 for the second straight round. Reid Robertson (5 IP, 10 strikeouts) and Andrew Herlitz (2 IP, 2 SO) teamed up on a two-hitter. Dacula had runners on first and second when Herlitz got the final out on a strikeout. Pope scored its run in the fifth inning on Caden Smith’s double that scored Will Lantis.
*Lee County d. Greenbrier 4-3, 0-11, 6-5 (AAAAAA): Lee County was outscored 19-10 in the series between programs with lots of tradition but advanced on two one-run victories, each time hold big leads that nearly got away. In game 1, Chase Somers was 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI, and Matt Cooper pitched a six-hitter and struck out 13 in the complete game – including the final seven batters that he faced. Greenbrier had gotten to within 4-3 in the fifth inning on an error that led to two runs. That’s about when Cooper’s strikeout streak began. After being hammered 11-0 in Game 2, Lee County struck early in Game 3, scoring five runs in the second inning for a 6-0 lead. Spencer Hanson was 3-for-3 with a triple. Greenbrier had the bases loaded with two outs in the sixth when Hill Corley got a critical strikeout.
*Thomas County Central d. Wayne County 6-1, 2-8, 1-0 (AAAAA): Fifth-ranked Thomas County Central’s Luke Benton (6.1 IP) and Nick Herndon (0.2 IP) combined for the shutout in the deciding Game 3. Benton allowed just three hits, and Herndon came in after a walk and retired the final two batters. Shane Stephenson singled in Central’s only run in the fourth inning. Thomas Central is chasing what would be its first state title in baseball.
*Hart County d. Ringgold 4-5, 1-0, 10-5 (AAA): Unranked and third-seeded Hart County defeated No. 6 Ringgold, a semifinalist last season. Hart had upset Lovett on the road in the first round, also in three games. In this one, Will Dean threw a four-hit shutout in the 1-0 victory in Game 2. He also drove in the game’s only run with a single in the third inning. In Game 3, Ethan Jones went the distance in a 10-5 win. He allowed 10 hits and four walks, even hit a couple of batters, but worked out of jams that stranded eight Ringgold runners. Chase Dalton had a monster deciding game – 3-for-3 with a grand slam and six RBI. Hart County committed no errors in its two wins.
*Jeff Davis d. Fitzgerald 5-3, 2-3, 3-2 (AA): No. 1 Jeff Davis, aiming for its second state title in three seasons, stayed alive with a 3-2 victory over No. 4 Fitzgerald in Game 3. Jeff Davis used five pitchers in the series and allowed just five earned runs over 21 innings. The best effort was Caleb Leggett’s six innings and 12 strikeouts in Game 1, a 5-3 Jeff Davis victory.
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