GHSA Class AAA baseball state championship series: Columbus High will go to Ringgold with extraordinary pitching staff

Blue Devils' pitchers have allowed only 13 runs in nine playoff games this year

kprice@ledger-enquirer.comMay 26, 2012 

The Columbus High pitching staff has been dominant all season. It has been extraordinary in the postseason.

Through nine games in four series, the Blue Devils have allowed just 13 runs on 33 hits. With an offense that has been inconsistent at times, the pitching trio of Kyle Carter, JT Phillips and Avery Seckinger has carried the Blue Devils into the Georgia High School Association Class AAA baseball state championship series.

That series starts with a doubleheader Monday. Game 1 is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. at Ringgold High School's Bill Womack Field. The if game would be played Tuesday. A time has not been announced for that game.

"The pitching is why we are here," said Columbus coach Bobby Howard, who has led the Blue Devils to 11 state titles, including two straight in 2010 and '11. "We have had some timely hits, but they have pitched their way out of jams and have been overpowering at times. Our pitching is our strength."

Carter, who will start Game 1 for the Blue Devils (31-4), has been especially overpowering during the playoffs.

The southpaw is 4-0 and has given up just one run on 10 hits in 23-plus innings. In the second round against

Harlem, he struck out 18 and pitched a no-hitter for 6 2-3 innings before giving up an infield single.

Carter is 11-2 this season with an 0.80 ERA.

Phillips, who will be the Game 2 starter, has been almost as dominant. Through the first three rounds of the playoffs, he had allowed just three runs on 13 hits.

He suffered his only loss of the season in Game 2 against Troup in the semifinals last Monday. Troup scored five runs on six hits in six innings against the right-hander.

Seckinger, who is 6-1, beat Troup in Game 3 on Tuesday to send the Blue Devils into their fourth straight state championship series. Troup managed just one run on four hits against Seckinger.

"They have been lights out all year," said Hunter Swilling, who has a pair of wins and three saves. "If they keep it up, we will have a good chance at a three-peat."

Senior Ryan Lang agrees.

"It has been awesome," he said. "From Kyle to JT to Avery. Avery has been a big improvement this year. He has been the guy who had to step up for us this year because we really only had two pitchers from last year. … Kyle and JT have always been awesome, so they are a big key for us."

Runs likely will be hard to come by in this series. With a couple of exceptions, the Ringgold pitching has been fairly dominant as well. The Tigers have allowed 37 runs in 10 games, but 20 of those have come in two games.

Corey Kafka (9-2) and Adam Weddon (9-2) are expected to be Ringgold's starters Monday.

The Tigers lost Clemson signee Matthew Crownover to an elbow injury earlier this year.

Kevin Price, 706-320-4493

FINALS SCHEDULE

at Ringgold High

Bill Womack Field

Best-of-three

Monday's Games

Game 1: Columbus at Ringgold, 4 p.m.

Game 2: Columbus at Ringgold, 30 minutes after completion of Game 1

Tuesday's Game

Game 3: Columbus at Ringgold (if necessary), TBA

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