GHSA Baseball 2019 Championship Previews

By: Brian Zwerner — SportalNews contributor

May 17, 2019 (Atlanta, GA):  The GHSA baseball championship games are heading to the Atlanta Braves and their minor league affiliate stadiums for the first time this year.  It’s an exciting time for student-athletes as they get to compete where the big league players roam.  Games will run from May 20-23, 2019 at SunTrust Park, Coolray Field, Historic Grayson Stadium, Luther Williams Field, and State Mutual Stadium.  Schedule here.

7A Hillgrove vs Parkview: Parkview has dominated the top classification in the GHSA for many years, tallying seven titles total.  They are the defending state champs and have been strong all season.  They beat a strong North Gwinnett team in the semis and have put up solid defensive performances throughout the playoffs.  Hillgrove has never climbed the GHSA baseball mountaintop, but they enter the title game with impressive wins over state powers Grayson and Mill Creek in the last two rounds.  The Hawks were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs last year by Etowah, and they are looking to complete an incredible step forward this season.

6A Pope vs Heritage Conyers: the Pope Greyhounds have been the team to beat in 6A winning the last two state titles.  They look to complete the Threepeat this season.  They went to three games in their semifinal win over Harrison, recording two shutout victories. Lee County also took the Greyhounds to a third game in the quarterfinals, maybe opening the door for a new champion.  Heritage Conyers might be the team to do it after scoring a three game series win over Effingham County in the semis.  A win here would be the first title for Heritage Conyers and a big step up from their second round defeat last season.

5A Loganville vs Ola: much like Pope in the 6A classification, Loganville has been a runaway train in 5A.  They have won the last two state titles and four overall.  They cruised past Locust Grove and Thomas County in the last two rounds of the playoffs.  Up this year in the finals is Ola.  Ola had a tough road to the finals with a three game series against powerhouse Buford (a revenge game from last year’s quarterfinals) and then a tight battle with Decatur in the semis.  Ola looks for their first GHSA state baseball title.

4A Denmark vs Northside Columbus:  With defending champ Jefferson dropping down to 3A this season, the 4A Classification was guaranteed a new champion.  The Denmark Danes are certainly making their presence felt in their first season at the new school.  Denmark scored a three game win over a tough Blessed Trinity team in the semis and look to set the tone in 4A with a title in their first year.  They will take on the Northside Patriots, who are also angling for their first GHSA baseball title.  They knocked off a strong North Oconee team in three in the semis.  After a surprising first round loss last year to a pesky Spalding team, Northside has already taken 4A by storm this season.

3A Pace Academy vs Pike County:   The Pace Knights won three GHSA baseball titles in a row back in the 1990s but haven’t tasted greatness since.  They snatched the region title this season from the defending champ Lovett Lions and have steamrolled the competition in the playoffs so far. They come into the final game hot, easily beating North Hall in the semis. Pike County has never won a baseball title, and they come into the champ game riding a great defensive streak.  They have already had 3 shutouts in the playoffs and will need their best stuff to keep the Knights in check.  Both these teams were knocked out of the playoffs last year by Morgan County.

2A Jeff Davis vs Rockmart: Jeff Davis won the 2A title back in 2017, their first GHSA baseball state championship. They look to add to the trophy case after a thrilling 13-12 third game win over Bleckley County. Jeff Davis made the semis last season before falling to runner up Berrian.  Rockmart also needed three games to beat Callaway in the semis and Harlem in the quarters.  Rockmart fell in the first round of the playoffs in 2018, and they are enjoying this season’s big run.  Expect a tight series between these two as Rockmart goes for its first GHSA baseball title.

1A Public Schley County vs Gordon Lee: Schley County has captured the title twice in the last four years, the most recently in 2017.  They needed three games to edge Irwin County and Commerce over the last two rounds.  Gordon Lee is the defending 1A Public champ, with three total titles to their name.  They have rolled through their opponents in their run to the finals, knocking off Bowdon in the semis. Bowdon got the better of Schley last year in the quarterfinals.

1A Private Tattnall Square vs Savannah Christian: Tattnall Square is the defending 1A Private state champ, and also took home the title in 2016.  They look to make it three out of four after beating Hebron Christian and Strong Rock over the last two rounds, with both series going the distance.  Savannah Christian got the title in 2017 to break up Tattnall’s run, and they are well positioned to do it again this season.  They edged a strong Wesleyan team in three games in the semis to seal their spot in the title round.  Last year Savannah Christian lost a tough three game series to Prince Ave, the runner-up last season.

 

Pope Powers to Win over Centennial

By: Cody Butler/Brian Zwerner — SportalNews contributors

April 15, 2019 (Roswell, GA):  The Pope Greyhounds are back-to-back state champs in the 6A GHSA classification, and they brought a star-filled roster to battle the Centennial Knights.  The fireworks for the Greyhounds started with the first batter, when FSU commit James Tibbs went yard.  The Knights were not intimidated, as their UGA commit Jonathan Cannon answered with his own lead-off homer to tie the score at 1-1 at the end of the first.

In the third inning, the Greyhounds bats came alive, with a three run bomb by Caden Smith building a 6-1 lead for Pope.  Starting pitchers Gage Vailes and Aidan McConnell settled in for a few innings, before Pope grew the lead to 10-1 in the top of the fifth.  The Knights were not done yet though.  They found their own offensive punch, and cut the lead to four runs entering the bottom of the seventh.  Pope’s pitching held up in the final frame, and the Greyhounds got the 10-6 victory.

See highlights below.

 

 

Decatur Impressive in Region Win over Riverwood

By: Andrew Garner/Brian Zwerner — SportalNews contributors

April 10, 2019 (Decatur, GA):  The Decatur Bulldogs scored a strong 4-2 Senior Night win over region rival Riverwood Raiders last night.  The home crowd came out to support starting pitcher Jaylen Paden, who pitched 6+ good innings for Decatur.  He was relieved late in the game by Tucker Jones, who secured the win and first place in the region.

Brett Thomas, a University of South Carolina commit, brought the heat for the Raiders.  However a difficult third inning for Riverwood gave Decatur an early 4-1 lead that they could not overcome.

See highlights from the game below.

Woodward Scores Impressive Road Win at Newnan

By: Rob Grubbs — SportalNews contributor

April 2, 2019 (Newnan, GA): The Woodward Academy War Eagle baseball team (12-6), who is locked in a three-way battle in Region 4-AAAA, went on the road for a non-region game against the 2-AAAAAAA Newnan Cougars (15-7). On a breezy afternoon, the War Eagles broke open the game with six runs in the second, triggered by a two-run double from Khari Gee and cruised behind a strong night on the mound from Will Sanders for the 14-5 win.

It was a tough night for the Newnan defense as multiple miscues gave the War Eagles nine unearned runs. Allen Thompson reached base in all five at-bats and scored four times in the victory while Sanders pitched into the fifth inning, striking out 6 and only giving up four hits. Nicholas Crossing scored two for the Cougars.

See highlights of the game below.

 

Mountain View Scores Win Over North Gwinnett

By: Cody Butler/Brian Zwerner — SportalNews contributors

March 27, 2019 (Lawrenceville, GA):  The North Gwinnett Bulldogs took a 12 game win streak into a big region match-up with the Mountain View Bears.  With first place in the region on the line, these two heavyweights brought their best stuff to the diamond.

On the very first pitch of the game, Michael Borah set the tone for the Dawgs with a home run.  Jonathan Acosta answered for the Bears to tie the game at 1-1 at the end of the first.  In the bottom of the second Kenny Mallory belted a three-run homer to give Mountain View the 4-1 lead.  The pitchers Spencer Hancock and Coulson Buchanan dug in for the next few innings, and the 4-1 score held up through the fourth.

It was Michael Borah going yard again in the fifth for North Gwinnett that brought the Mountain View lead down to one run.  Corey Collins added to the home run flurry in the fifth, tying the game at 4-4.  After a quiet sixth inning, the teams entered the seventh and final inning tied.  Justin Manus came out of the bullpen for Mountain View to get them to the bottom of the inning still tied.

The leadoff man for the Bears reached base on a chopper, then advanced to third on a passed ball and a balk.  A long sacrifice fly to right field scored the game winner for Mountain View, final score of 5-4.  These teams will face off again on Thursday night for the rubber match of this series with first place in the region on the line.  Expect big things from both squads come playoff time this year.

 

Atlanta Braves Hometown Heroes

By: Brian Zwerner — SportalNews contributor

August 29, 2018 (Marietta, GA):

We were invited by the Atlanta Braves to the clubhouse to meet with two of their hometown heroes.

Charlie Culberson joined the Braves this offseason.  He is a 2007 graduate of Calhoun High School, where he won a GHSA state championship in 2005.  His head coach Chip Henderson is still skippering the squad at Calhoun.

Tyler Flowers has been with the Braves since 2016.  He graduated Blessed Trinity in 2004, where he starred in baseball and also football.  Coach Andy Harlin is still in charge over at Blessed Trinity since Flowers played for the Titans.

Listen below as they relay their favorite memories of high school baseball and give advice to aspiring baseball players.

Atlanta Braves honor GHSA baseball/softball at Champions Day

By: Chuck Jones — sportalspace contributor

DgeNU-eVMAAHMf8

June 24, 2018 (Atlanta, GA) — The Atlanta Braves recently recognized the accomplishments of the Georgia High School Association’s 2017-18 softball and baseball teams at SunTrust Park. The Champions Day parade began just before first pitch versus the Baltimore Orioles. Many teams were invited, which included state and region champions as well as quarter and semifinalists. However, a few teams were unable to make it to the event, but the teams that did participate were treated to a fantastic day at the Braves “Chop-Shop”.

Legendary Pope Greyhounds head coach and Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Famer, Jeff Rowland and his Back-to-Back Class AAAAAA state champions were present to take in the big league atmosphere. The Greyhound coach never takes credit for the success of his teams, but instead praises the players’ hard work and the “Greyhound Village.” Pope is now the state title leader in Cobb County with four crowns in a baseball-rich county.

Sportalspace was introduced to the R4-AAAAA Jones County Lady Greyhounds by the collective question, “are you hungry sir?” The Lady Greyhounds told sportalspace that they were hungry; and what exactly were they hungry for, one might ask? “We are hungry for a state championship!!!”

The quarterfinalists were extremely excited that the Braves organization extended an invite and want to show their appreciation for it, as they seek to improve on their 28-10 record by winning the 2018-19 title. Team MVP and graduated centerfielder, Shelby Fontenot, expressed extreme gratitude to the Braves for the invite with, “this is truly awesome to be a part of this!”

The Georgia Military College enrollee, who has been playing since the days of tee-ball, is just as excited for her former teammates potential success as head coach Blake Lyons is. Coach Lyons is returning 15 players from a roster of 19 and has a very optimistic outlook on the upcoming season.

“We have to replace three starters, but I’m confident that there will be players ready to step up to get the job done,” Lyons told sportalspace.

The R8-AAA Lady Panthers of Jackson County were also thrilled to take part in the festivities at SunTrust Park. Rising senior third baseman Brooke Simmons said that her team is poised to win state this upcoming year and said, “we have a great chance to win state, due to our chemistry that’s been developing since the age of six; as the majority of us have played together since that time. Our team has plenty of experience mixed with talent, as two of our seven returning seniors are committed to Georgia Tech.”

Jackson County head coach, Chad Brannon, is ready to hit the field and cannot wait to get to work with his 18 returning players from last year’s team. “We’re a small-town AAA school that’s seeking to make a strong run at this year’s title and I believe we have the talent to do it,” said Brannon.

Altogether, the Atlanta Braves organization did an excellent job of recognizing the GHSA athletes. An Orioles fan stated that he thought the Braves to be a very classy organization, to honor the local high school athletes and he hopes that other organizations will follow; if they haven’t already.

It was obvious that the honorees brought a touch of luck for their professional counterparts, as the Braves avoided a sweep by the Orioles and won 7-3.

Atlanta Braves Senior Coordinator of Community Affairs, Jarrod Simmons, explained that the Braves organization takes pride in connecting with the Georgia community, which is right in line with sportalspace’s connecting communities through youth sports” motto.

 

Participating Teams

Stratford Academy Softball
Eagles
Class 1A Private Elite 8
Mount de Sales Academy Softball
Cavaliers
Class 1A Private Elite 8
Marion County High School Softball
Lady Eagles
Class 1A Public Elite 8
Bleckley County High School Softball
Lady Royals
Class 2A Elite 8
Rutland High School Softball
Hurricanes
Class 3A Elite 8
Jackson County High School Softball
Panthers
Class 3A Elite 8
Madison County High School Softball
Red Raiders
Class 4A Elite 8
Jones County High School Softball
Greyhounds 
Class 5A Elite 8
Houston County High School Baseball
Bears
Class 6A Elite 8
Pope High School Softball
Greyhounds 
Class 6A Elite 8
Irwin County High School Baseball
Indians
Class 1A Public Final 4
Dodge County High School Softball
Lady Indians
Class 2A Final Four
Carrollton High School Softball
Trojans 
Class 5A Final Four
Woodstock High School Baseball
Wolverines
Class 7A Final 4
Cook High School Softball
Hornets
Class 3A Runner Up
Pope High School Baseball
Greyhounds 
Class 6A State Champions