The Class 2A and 3A GHSA baseball state champions will be crowned at Rome’s AdventHealth Stadium starting on Friday, May 19 with Harlem and Ringgold. Both teams are fresh off massive semifinal performances with Harlem sweeping the defending state champion Pike County Pirates (3-2, 3-2) and Ringgold pulling past Savannah Christian (1-0, 4-3) in a thrilling sweep. Now, Ringgold will make the roughly 50-mile trip south to Rome to face the Bulldogs and look for its first state championship in program history. As for Harlem, the program is one series away from winning its eighth all-time state title and returning the championship back to Harlem’s campus for the first time since 1986.
Ringgold’s semifinal victory saw senior Ross Norman toss a one-hit 12-strikeout game to fuel the 1-0 victory. The team had to endure an hour-plus rain delay before the final three outs in the 4-3 Game 2 clinching win and senior Sam Crew closed out the victory at the mound.
”They’ve earned every single bit of it,” Ringgold head coach Drew Walker told the Chattanooga Times Free Press after the victory. “They’ve overcome adversity all year long and controlled the controllables, and I don’t know anything more adverse that could happen than what just happened.”
Norman’s standout Game 1 performance followed a no-hitter he pitched in the quarterfinals to lift Ringgold past a talented Columbus team.
”Everything was working before the game, so I knew I was on today,” Norman told the Times Free Press.
Ringgold roared back from a 3-1 hole in Game 2 before Sam Crew’s heroics drove home the go-ahead run. Harlem’s journey to the finals is the latest achievement of a brilliant 33-1 season. The Bullodgs swept Long County, Thomasville, Gordon Lee and Pike County to punch their ticket and were also 3-0 against Class 5A powerhouse Greenbrier this season. The double-header gets underway at 5 p.m. on Friday and the series would resume at noon on Saturday if a Game 3 is necessary.
The Class 2A championship series will have Cobb County private school powerhouses and Area 6 rivals Mt. Paran and North Cobb Christian battling for the title. Mt. Paran won its first and only state title in 2021 and North Cobb Christian is one series away from earning its historic first. North Cobb Christian is 2-0 against the opposing Eagles this season—taking the first meeting 5-4 in eight innings and winning 5-2 back on April 18. North Cobb Christian carries a 16-game winning-streak into the finals and a 32-6 overall record.
In the semifinals, the Eagles swept past Appling County (3-1, 5-3) and will be back in the finals after finishing runner-up in last year’s Class A Private championship to Wesleyan. North Cobb Christian jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the semis and Blake Dean pitched five 1/3 innings with 12 strikeouts before Tobias Rupp earned the save. Michael Mullinax finished 2-of-3 at the plate with two RBIs and Nicholas Stinson added a hit and an RBI in the 3-1 win. Juan Vargas earned the victory at the mound in Game 2 and Mullinax drove in two runs with a clutch triple.
Mt. Paran earned its second finals appearance in the last three seasons with an impressive sweep over Fellowship Christian (7-1, 6-0) in the semifinals. Tate McKee pitched a complete game to help the Eagles close out the 7-1 Game 1 victory and Luke Dotson threw a scoreless complete game to clinch the series in Game 2 with just one hit allowed and 12 strikeouts.
Mt. Paran’s pitching was exceptional and Dotson also walked twice and tallied two RBIs at the plate to compliment his standout performance. McKee went 2-of-3 at the plate with an RBI in the Game 1 victory and catcher Kyle Crisp drove in two runs. Crisp (2-for-3) and McKee (3-for-3) finished with three and two RBI, respectively in the Game 2 win.
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