When the city of Augusta Match Play Championship got under way last week, there were a few whispers of, "I'll take that Tilton kid to win."
There were plenty of bigger names who would have been considered favorites to take the title. As Sunday's final match arrived, "that Tilton Kid" was still hanging around.
Jacob Tilton, a sophomore at Evans High School, gave eventual winner Willie Williams all he could handle in the final match. Down by three with five holes to go, Tilton rallied by taking holes 14 and 15 to pull within one. Then he took the 18th to force sudden death.
Unfortunately, he would lose on the first playoff hole, but he showed everyone at The Augusta Municipal Golf Course that he could be a force to be reckoned with for years to come on the Augusta-area golf scene.
Round 1 GHSA Baseball Playoff Matchups
Evans (16-9) at Northgate (23-3)
Northgate is obviously a talented squad, but this might be a good draw for Evans. Keep in mind that Northgate lost to Greenbrier's first-round opponent, Whitewater, twice this season. They have lost two of their last six games, and they gave up 13 runs in their most recent win (14-13) over McIntosh.
I am not saying this will be a walk in the park for Evans, but the Knights certainly have a chance. Northgate can score runs; they have plated 267 runners in 25 games (one of their wins was a forfeit). That's an average of 10.7 runs per game. The Knights will need Kyle Golden and Kevin Millward to have their best stuff for this series.
at Greenbrier (21-4)
Their record might not overwhelm you, but Whitewater is a dangerous Round 1 opponent. They beat Northgate both times they faced them this season. They feature two of the state's top underclassmen hitters in 6-foot, 200-pound sophomore Miles Head and junior outfielder Heine Rivera. Rivera had three homers and eight RBIs in a game earlier this season.
Whitewater players will have revenge on their minds after Greenbrier embarrassed them 20-0 (that's right - 20-0) in Game 2 of their Round 2 series in last year's state playoffs. Greenbrier swept the series 6-3, 20-0.
at Harlem (18-8)
This also is a rematch from a year ago. Last season, Troup swept Harlem 10-0, 5-4 in Round 2 of the AAA State Playoffs.
Like Harlem, Troup plays in a very good baseball area. They play Newnan and LaGrange each year, and played all of the solid teams from the Columbia County area.
Troup also had an impressive split (5-1 win and 9-2 loss) vs. Russell County (Alabama), a team that is a national power and topped Greenbrier earlier this season.
My point is clear: Harlem will have their hands full, but they can take this series if they play solid defensively and get some timely hitting.
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