For three Columbia County high school baseball teams, the magic number is 10.
That's how many wins it will take for Greenbrier, Lakeside or Evans to capture a state championship in the Georgia High School Association state playoffs, which begin Thursday and feature five rounds with best-of-three formats.
Greenbrier and Lakeside will be at home in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs. The Wolfpack takes on Dougherty and the Panthers face Thomas County Central.
"The main thing is to take one series at a time and prepare the best you can for the team we're playing," Pack coach Ed Williams said of his squad's approach to the state playoffs. "The best team doesn't always win, because you can get caught on an off day. Preparation plays a big role."
Evans beat McIntosh 10-0 Friday in the Region 4-AAAAA tournament, and the Knights topped the Chiefs 9-2 Monday to sweep the best-of-three home series and secure a spot in the Class AAAAA state playoffs. Evans will travel to Warner Robins in the first round.
As the Region 3-AAAA champion, Greenbrier (19-5) enters the playoffs as a No. 1 seed. Lakeside (18-7) was No. 2 in Region 3-AAAA, while Evans (19-6) is the No. 3 seed from Region 4-AAAAA.
Region 3-AAAA settled its seedings by regular-season records, but Evans had to play in the Region 4-AAAAA tournament. The Knights benefited from the overtime - Evans came in as the No. 4 team in the region, then swept McIntosh and moved up to the No. 3 slot when No. 7 Newnan upset No. 2 Henry County.
Had Evans remained No. 4 heading into state, the Knights would have been forced to travel to play Hardaway in Columbus. Instead, Evans has an easier draw with Warner Robins, and a shorter drive to the best-of-three series.
Speaking of easier draws, Lakeside has to be breathing a sigh of relief. The Panthers have lost first-round state playoff series on the road the past three seasons, and each time Lakeside was defeated by the eventual state champions.
"I'm glad we don't have to do that this year," said Lakeside senior catcher Parker Dye. "We'll still have tough games, but maybe we can work into the playoffs a little bit. We have nine senior starters, and there's a lot of pride and a good, strong feeling going into these games. We know each game could be our last."
Class AAAAA: Evans at Warner Robins, Thursday doubleheader starting at 4 p.m.; Game 3 (if necessary), Friday at 5 p.m.
Class AAAA: Dougherty at Greenbrier, Thursday doubleheader starting at 4 p.m.; Game 3 (if necessary), Friday at 4 p.m. Thomas County Central at Lakeside, Thursday doubleheader, starting at 4 p.m.; Game 3 (if necessary), Friday at 2 p.m.
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