Tuesday update: The last three second-round series were played Monday.
Alexander beat Valdosta 6-5 when cleanup hitter Gavin Harmon hit a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning. Jason Hinchman and Justin Culpepper had singled ahead of him. It was Harmon’s second double. Adam Smith homered for Alexander. The Valdosta loss ends the high school career of D.L. Hall, who had 16 strikeouts in Valdosta’s 6-2 win in Game 2. Hall, who led Houston County to a state title last season before transferring back to Valdosta, is considered by many Georgia’s top high school prospect for the June MLB Draft.
Meanwhile in AAA, third-ranked Ringgold beat Appling County 12-1 on Monday. Noah Parrish was 3-for-3 with two home runs. In AA, Rockmart beat Berrien 2-1. Avery Allen pitched a three-hitter.
Round 2 of the state baseball playoffs is done. Below are some highlights. Among them are Andrew Keene's no-hitter, grand slam and three-run homer all in one big game, and Heritage-Ringgold’s wild 19-18 victory in deciding Game 3 against Woodward Academy.
-Andrew Keene, a Georgia State signee, had a day to remember Saturday in Etowah’s Game 3 victory over Mountain View on Saturday. Keene pitched a five-inning no-hitter with nine strikeouts. He also hit two homers – a three-run shot, then a grand slam to invoke the run rule in the fifth inning. Keene was a hero in the Game 2 must-win situation, too. He hit a two-run homer to break a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the sixth. For the series, he was 6-for-10 with four runs, 10 RBI, three homers and a double. Next for Etowah is Region 7 champion and fifth-ranked Brookwood, a 5-1, 8-7 winner over Camden County.
-No. 1-ranked Walton, the defending champion in the highest classification, is finished, the victim of a tough draw – third-ranked Mill Creek – in the second round. Walton won the opener 10-0 via run rule and led 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth of Game 2, meaning Mill Creek started the series with nine scoreless innings. Mill Creek's Beau Jones hit a two-run single for a 3-1 lead in fifth. Davis Sharpe, a Clemson commit, pitched the final three innings and got the win, then came back and pitched a complete game on Saturday for the clincher. He struck out nine and allowed six hits and only one earned run in that 6-2 victory. Jay Pendley and Cameron Turley hit back-to-back home runs. Mill Creek now faces North Paulding in the quarterfinals. North Paulding swept 10th-ranked Lambert, the Region 5 champion, 8-5, 6-0. Jakob Brown pitched a four-hit shutout in the series clincher.
-Woodstock, the third seed from Region 3, has allowed no runs in four games. The Wolverines swept seventh-ranked Region 8 champion Grayson 7-0, 6-0 in the second round. Brant Hunter, a Georgia Tech commit, pitched a four-hitter with six strikeouts in the opener. Jared Staples threw a five-hitter with six strikeouts in Game 2. Hunter and Staples also threw shutouts (6-0, 3-0) in a first-round sweep of Wheeler. Hunter had a two-hitter and Staples and three-hitter in that series. Both pitchers have been on Woodstock’s varsity since they were freshmen. Next for Woodstock is fourth-ranked Parkview, which took out Colquitt County 6-1, 4-0.
-Second-ranked North Gwinnett swept sixth-ranked Lassiter 8-7, 4-2. L.J. Fisher, the No. 8 hitter on a deep-hitting team, hit a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning of Game 1 for an 8-7 lead that held up. It was his second homer of the game. In Game 2, Michal Borah was 2-for-3 with a homer and two doubles. Jake Brace allowed five hits in a complete game. North Gwinnett moves on to face Region 3 champion Hillgrove, a 2-1, 9-1 winner over West Forsyth.
-Nationally ranked Winder-Barrow is out, beaten Saturday by unranked Richmond Hill 7-2 in a Game 3. Jackson Finley had a nice series for Richmond Hill. He was 4-for-11 with a double and a triple at the plate and was the complete-game winning pitcher in Game 2, a 3-2 victory, as he scattered 10 hits. Beau Hanna hit three home runs for Winder-Barrow.
-Eighth-ranked Lee County, Richmond Hill's next opponent, won an 11-inning Game 3 on Saturday to advance over sixth-ranked Northview. Lee County won the finale 3-1 as Tyler McConnell and Lawrence Bryant had run-scoring singles after Malik Spratling's leadoff hit in the 11th. Although not the winning pitcher, Tyler Simon threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings. Simon also got the save in the 1-0 shutout in Game 1. Josh Hatcher threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings in that one.
-No. 1-ranked Pope beat 2016 state champion Houston County 10-0, 11-2. Houston County was unranked, so it was no surprise. Jared Miller was 7-for-7 with three doubles in the series. Caden Smith was 5-for-7. Parker Orr was 4-for-6. Ryan Webb pitched a three-hit shutout in a five-inning rule-rule Game 1. Antonio Jareno had three doubles in Game 2. Pope now faces fifth-ranked Dalton in the quarterfinals.
-In the other quarterfinals, it will be second-ranked Allatoona at home against Johns Creek, and River Ridge against the winner Alexander.
-The top four ranked teams are alive, including No. 1 Starr’s Mill, which beat No. 10 Kell 5-2, 5-2. Jake Arnold, a North Georgia signee, pitched a complete game in the opener and hit a key double in a four-run sixth inning. Pitchers William Moore and Hayes Heinecke combined to win Game 2. Will Evans, signed with Birmingham-Southern, hit two doubles. Starr’s Mill will play unranked Decatur, the Region 6 champion, in the quarters.
-Wayne County beat Buford 19-7 in Game 3 on Saturday. Wayne County is the Region 2 champion but is unranked. The Yellow Jackets have beaten ranked teams in both rounds. It was No. 9 Jones County in the first round. Wayne County now faces fourth-ranked Carrollton, an 8-3, 7-0 winner over fifth-ranked Harris County.
-The other two quarterfinals pit No. 2 Veterans at No. 7 Loganville and No. 3 Locust Grove at home against McIntosh.
-Heritage of Ringgold beat Woodward 19-18 in a Game 3 on Saturday. Each team went through five pitchers in this 37-run, 32-hit, 8-inning game. Josh Gibson – not the negro leagues legend, but the Heritage catcher – was 3-for-4 with a grand slam and five RBI. Cole Wilcox was 3-for-5 with four runs and four RBI. Woodward’s Hunter Faloner was 5-for-5. Woodward scored six runs in the top of the seventh inning to take an 18-12 lead. Heritage scored six in the bottom of the seventh for an 18-18 tie. The game was won when Brody Campbell doubled to right, stole third and scored on a wild pitch.
-Marist, unranked, swept Cairo 5-0, 2-0. Marist will face No. 10 Madison County in the quarterfinals. Marist swept No. 5 Cedartown in the first round 4-1, 7-1, so has allowed just two runs in four playoff games.
-The other quarterfinals will be Heritage vs. Hardaway; unranked Region 2 champion West Laurens at No. 1 Blessed Trinity; and Stephens County, the fourth seed from Region 8, at No. 7 LaGrange.
-Second-ranked Pierce County swept 10th-ranked Hart County 10-0, 4-0 as Cody Grant and Cody Williams pitched shutouts. Grant pitched a four-hitter and hit a home run in the opener. Williams had 13 strikeouts in Game 2. Hart County had eliminated Pierce County in 2014, so it was revenge for the Bears. Pierce will be at home for its quarterfinal against No. 6 Greater Atlanta Christian.
-Other quarterfinals will have Coahulla Creek at No. 4 Redan; Calhoun at No. 10 Lovett; and No. 1 North Hall vs. No. 3 Ringgold.
-The most suspenseful second-round series took place in Cochran, where ninth-ranked Bleckley County beat fourth-ranked Heard County 0-6, 5-4, 6-5, winning consecutive one-run games to pull it out. In Game 3, Heard County’s Ethan Brant homered for a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning, but it didn’t hold. Bleckley got two runs in the bottom of the seventh, the game-winner on a bases-loaded walk. Bleckley had the bases full with no outs, and Heard cut off two runs at the plate with fielder’s choices, but the dam failed to hold. In Game 2, Bleckley mustered only two hits but took a 5-1 lead in the fifth and held on, benefiting from eight walks and five hit batters. Shayne Cannon pitched a complete game and allowed only one earned run. Bleckley will play host to seventh-ranked Bacon County this week.
-The other quarterfinals will be No. 1 Elbert County vs. No. 10 Thomasville; Toombs County at Dodge County (both unranked); and Jeff Davis vs. Rockmart.
-Only three of the top eight seeds in Class A public – No. 1 Schley County, No. 2 Gordon Lee and No. 6 Charlton County – survived the second round. Credit for upsets go to No. 12 Telfair County (over No. 5 ECI); No. 13 Treutlen (over No. 4 Seminole County); No. 14 Johnson County (over No. 3 Lanier County); and No. 10 Irwin County (over No. 7 Miller County). All but one of those series were sweeps.
-The top eight seeds advanced in Class A private. The best series was probably Mount de Sales’ win over Prince Avenue Christian. Mount de Sales lost 3-1, then won 3-1 and 2-1. Alex Mills hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 3. Zack Tong pitched a complete-game three-hitter.
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