Columbia County high school baseball teams did some spring cleaning last week, as Evans, Lakeside and Greenbrier all swept their opponents in opening-round action of the Georgia High School Association state playoffs.
In a Class AAAA doubleheader Thursday at Lakeside, the Panthers beat Thomas County Central by scores of 7-1, 14-6. Eric Mamo, Parker Dye, Brant Evans and Danny Ryan each homered in the series, while Preston Crews went 5 for 6 at the plate.
Pitchers Chris Synan and Matt Josephson picked up wins for Lakeside, which advances to a second-round series at Jones County. The Panthers play a doubleheader today (2 p.m. start) against the Region 4 champion Greyhounds. Game three, if necessary, is Thursday (game time TBA).
Evans traveled to Warner Robins for a doubleheader last Thursday, and the trip proved worthwhile, as the Knights began the Class AAAAA playoffs with 9-1 and 13-3 wins over the Demons.
The news kept getting better for Evans, because No. 4 seeded Groves upset Ware County last week. That gave the Knights a home series in the second round. Evans and Groves start today with a 3 p.m. doubleheader. Game Three (if necessary) is schedule for 4 p.m. Thursday.
In a Class AAAA opener last Thursday at the Briarpatch, the Wolfpack rolled over Dougherty with two mercy-rule wins. The Pack pounded the Trojans by scores of 13-2 and 29-7.
Game two might have never ended, had Greenbrier coach Ed Williams not asked two of his players to step on the plate while attempting to bunt. That gave Dougherty two outs and mercifully ended the fourth inning.
"When you talk about 'easy,' it all comes down to how well you prepared for the game," Pack senior Philip Tapley said of the first-round series. "Both games we were able to jump on 'em early. That takes a lot of pressure off you. As far as pressure, this was the easiest playoff series I've played in."
With the strong state playoff performances, Evans (21-7), Lakeside (20-7) and Greenbrier (21-5) all have topped the 20-win plateau in 2002.
Still, even after securing 20-win seasons, and with convincing state-playoff victories last week, the Knights, Panthers and Pack must forget the past and focus on the present.
With a letdown today, there might not be a future on the diamond this year.
"The first thing I said was we've got to put this behind us and get ready to play Heritage," Coach Williams said after Greenbrier's first-round sweep. "That's the key for the playoffs. When you get to state, you can come off a big win, but then you've got to refocus and get ready for a new team."
Georgia High School Association State Baseball Playoffs
Class AAAA, second-round matchups
Heritage at Greenbrier - doubleheader today (3 p.m.); Game Three (if necessary), Thursday at 3 p.m.
Lakeside at Jones County - doubleheader today (2 p.m.); Game Three (if necessary), Thursday (time TBA).
Class AAAAA, second-round matchup
Groves at Evans - doubleheader today (3 p.m.); Game Three (if necessary), Thursday at 4 p.m.
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