Before I go anywhere with the actual on-field results, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate.
It rained nearly the entire weekend, and only one baseball series in the Bi-City area failed to be completed.
Let’s just pause and marvel in that minor miracle.
The one series not finished, of course, is Northside-Whitewater, which appeared from the outset to be one of the most intriguing. Since that one still has a game to play, that’s where I’ll begin.
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Whitewater at Northside
The Patriots had one of the tougher draws of the playoffs, playing a top-10 team in Whitewater despite earning a 2-seed and a home series in the opening round. Whitewater comes from Region 4-AAAAA, one of the toughest in the classification.
Patriots coach David Smart said he and the team knew that a lot of people outside Columbus might not pick Northside as the favorite, but the Patriots welcomed the challenge and took the first game 7-2. It failed to complete the sweep, which would have made it a clean sweep of sweeps on Friday (did you get all that), when it lost 4-1 in the nightcap.
The two teams were scheduled to settle the score on Saturday night, but the terrible weather took its toll, forcing a postponement. The game will be made up on Monday.
Give Northside credit. It stood tall against a tough opponent in game one. My gut tells me there will be no backing down in game three. The winner of that game will play at Lakeside-Evans.
Northgate at Hardaway
It took three games, but the Hawks dispatched of Northgate, which comes from the same region as Whitewater.
Hardaway coach Chris Gilstrap said on a few occasions how difficult he knew that first-round test would be, but his team survived.
It wasn’t always easy.
After a stellar pitching performance in game one, the defense faltered a little bit. The bats never really came alive in either of the first two games. Game three was another shutout, though, and Hardaway has to like the way its pitching sets up.
The Hawks get Evans, which swept Ware County, in the second round and the team knows it will at least have a shot in the opener. Pitcher Cedric Brown has not lost a game all season, and he’ll undoubtedly give his team a chance again.
Past that is anybody’s guess, but Hardaway certainly looks to be in an alright position.
Harris County at McIntosh
Excuse the excessive reference to Region 4-AAAAA, but this is another team out of that region. And as good as Harris County was, it simply couldn’t make it out against McIntosh.
McIntosh won 11-1 and 2-0 to sweep the series and advance to the second round, where it will face 4-seed Greenbrier.
The Tigers played a great season, but faltered down the stretch and faced the wrong opponent to try and get things going in the postseason.
Lanier at Columbus
Another first round series, another sweep for the Blue Devils. The offense came alive, though it did miss a handful of opportunities, and the pitching was solid.
I think a large majority of people have cast off this Columbus team as the one that ends the streak of state championships. While it may be too early to speak to the contrary, my only caution is that you don’t write them off at any point.
The Blue Devils have the talent to make a run if things come together just right, and by the look of the first series that’s certainly a possibility.
They will get Redan in the second round, which is no small task. Make it past that, though, and we could be talking about yet another run to the final four.
Rabun County at Jordan
Disappointing, I think, would be an understatement for this series. I think the majority of Jordan players and coaches would agree.
It entered the playoffs with a 2-seed and hosted its first playoff series since 1992, but saw it quickly unravel with a 5-3 and 7-0 loss.
Jordan was better than solid this year and, given the opportunity, could probably beat Rabun County in another series.
Sometimes things just don’t go a team’s way, though, and I think that’s probably what happened for Jordan.
Tough break for a team having a fantastic season.
Kings Ridge at Brookstone
Call this the classic 11-vs.-6 upset.
Brookstone was swept in two games, 8-7 and 7-4, ending its season well short of its goals.
I, for one, am mildly surprised. The Cougars were solid all the way around and I expected things to go their way in the first round.
Things weren’t to be, however, as Kings Ridge played two very impressive games.
Marbury at Russell County
The Warriors are slowly inching their way toward history.
Right now, they have won 34 straight games, 42 overall, and travel to Spanish Fort next week for the state semifinals.
It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that. Spanish Fort is, of course, the team that knocked it out of the playoffs a year ago.
Russell County coach Tony Rasmus has said on a few occasions that he thinks his team was the better team a year ago, but was simply outplayed in its series with Spanish Fort. The semifinals will be a chance to prove it.
The team has every reason to believe it can pull it off, given its long run of success this season, but I don’t think anybody is expecting an easy series win for Russell County.
This one will be a battle.
For news, notes and opinions throughout the playoffs, follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.