Prep baseball playoffs: Decisive games for AAAAA

Playoff pressure is nothing new for Pope's baseball team.

Ryan Ussery cranked out three homers for the day as Pope split the best-of-three Class AAAAA semifinals with Brookwood, losing 16-3 and winning 3-1 on Monday. The two teams will play at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the right to play for the state championship.

Each of Pope's past two playoff series have gone to a third and deciding game. "We don't do anything the easy way," Pope coach Jeff Rowland said. "Our guys know what to expect for third games, and I don't think we're in panic mode."

In the other Class AAAAA series, East Paulding's Michael Goodman blasted a dramatic three-run homer with one out in the seventh inning for the 5-3 win. South Forsyth won the second game 16-5, forcing a deciding game at noon Tuesday.

At Pope, Brookwood put on an offensive display in Game 1, including three hits by Tremayne Tooire. Pope regained confidence in Game 2 when with early homers by Ussery and Steve Wilkerson.

At South Forsyth, East Paulding's Zack Wheeler struck out 14 and pitched a complete game in the opener. In Game 2, South Forsyth had patience at the plate, scoring nine times in the second inning, including four on bases loaded walks. South Forsyth's Andrew Barna collected five RBIs, while Caden Bailey and Curtis Parker each had two hits.

"I'm very, very proud of the way our guys bounced back after blowing that first game," South Forsyth coach Jamie Corr said. "Many teams wouldn't have been able to recover from that, but our guys took it in stride and fought back, as they have all year."

In other series:

» Class AAAA: Starr's Mill swept defending state champion Loganville 6-5 and 2-0. In Game 1, Jesse Baker had a game-winning RBI single in the eighth inning. In Game 2, pitcher Ken Jackson hurled a one-hitter, helped by a two-run homer by Baker in the first.

Also, Marist and Northgate split, with the two teams playing the deciding game at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Marist. The War Eagles won the opener 7-2, with Northgate rallying back for an 11-8 win in the Game 2.

» Class AAA: Cartersville swept Perry 4-3 and 8-2 to return to the state championship series. Ben Bridges and Levi Mauldin were the winning pitchers for Cartersville, while Donavan Tate and Cole Payne had four hits each for the day. Also, Columbus and Carrollton were rained out, with Game 1 scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday.

» Class AA: Lovett swept their neighborhood and region rival Westminster 5-1 and 10-3. In Game 1, the Lovet's Johnathan Carkhuff struck out nine in a complete game, and was helped by solo home runs by Jack Rogers and Campbell Wilson. In Game 2, Lovett was trailing 2-0 when Drew Stockton hit a three-run homer in the fourth, and the Lions' extended its lead to 8-2 in the fifth on Max Williams' grand slam and Stockton's second homer.

Also, Dublin beat Cook County 3-2 on three solo home runs in Game 1. They played Game 2 late Monday.

» Class A: Wesleyan beat Brookstone 14-4 in Game 1 and was leading 4-0 in the sixth inning when the lightning meter sounded in the second game. Also, inclement weather conditions forced Landmark Christian and Calvary Day to move its series from Monday to Tuesday. Game 1 is scheduled for 12 noon, followed by Game 2 at 3 p.m.

— Correspondents Andrew Adler and Steve Shulnutt contributed to this article.