High School Sports

5 Columbus area baseball teams were in playoffs this week. 4 are still in contention

Playing sports as a child has more health benefits than keeping weight down

A recent study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research shows sports might be good for bone health. The study looked at nearly 1,000 children.
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A recent study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research shows sports might be good for bone health. The study looked at nearly 1,000 children.

Five local baseball teams played best-of-three series this week in Georgia and Alabama high school state playoffs. Four of them remain in contention for a championship. Here’s a roundup of their results.

Columbus

In the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA second round, the Region 1 second-seeded Columbus Blue Devils went on the road Thursday and took home a doubleheader sweep, 1-0 and 9-5, from Region 2 first seed Mary Persons.

Austin Hicks, a senior, pitched a complete-game shutout in Game 1. He allowed three hits and one walk while striking out six.

Columbus also collected only three hits, but senior Colby Brabston drove in the game’s lone run as sophomore Gray Voltz scored in the third inning.

Game 2 was tied 3-3 in the fifth inning when junior Devin Call came through with a two-run single on a 2-2 count, sparking the Blue Devils to five runs in the frame.

Leading the 13-hit attack for the Blue Devils were Call (3-for-4, 2 RBI, 1 run), senor Robbie Tillman (3-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 runs) and Brabston (2-for-3, 1 RBI, 2 runs). Hicks had the biggest blast with a homer and 2 RBI.

Davis Livingston, a junior, pitched the victory. In 6 1/3 innings, he allowed five runs on 10 hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. Call got the final two outs — both strikeouts.

The Blue Devils (24-7) advanced to the Class AAAA quarterfinals and will play May 8 at Region 8 first seed North Oconee (20-6). The game time wasn’t available before this story’s deadline.

Northside

Also in the GHSA Class AAAA second round, the Region 1 third-seeded Northside Patriots overwhelmed Region 2 fourth seed Perry 8-1 and 11-3 for a doubleheader sweep Thursday at home.

“I’m pleased with the way we came out and played in both games,” said Northside head coach Dee Miller. “I thought our energy and focus were where they needed to be. The guys did a really good job executing our plan and playing the game.”

Northside jumped out to early leads in both games, and junior Mack Williams’ three-run homer sealed the series victory in the nightcap.

In Game 1, the Patriots totaled 10 hits. Leading the way were sophomore Walt McConnell (2-for-3, RBI), Williams (2-for-4, double, triple, RBI, run) and senior Clayton Weaver (1-for-4, double, 3 runs).

Connor Sizemore, a sophomore, pitched the complete-game victory. He allowed one run on three hits and no walks with 10 strikeouts.

In Game 2, the Patriots pounded out 13 hits. Leading the way were Williams (2-for-2, 3 walks, home run, 3 RBI, 3 runs), sophomore Connor O’Neal (3-for-4, 2 doubles, 3 RBI), junior Hunter Poe (2-for-5) and junior Tray Richburg (2-for-5, 2 runs).

Colton Joyner, a senior, also pitched a complete-game victory. He allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits and no walks with five strikeouts.

The Patriots (26-7) advanced to the Class AAAA quarterfinals and will play May 8 at Cartersville (28-4), starting at 4:30 p.m.

Harris County

In the GHSA Class AAAAA second round, the Region 1 first-seeded Harris County Tigers nipped Region 3 third seed Whitewater 5-3 and 4-3 for a doubleheader sweep Thursday at home.

“We are really excited for our guys,” said Harris County head coach Steve Westmoreland. “They have worked extremely hard this year. I am really proud of how this group has been able to handle adversity.”

In the first round, the Tigers bounced back after losing Game 1 to Union Grove. Then in the second round against Whitewater, they trailed in both games but rallied for the sweep.

“I don’t think we have played our best baseball in the playoffs,” Westmoreland said, “but we keep finding ways to win, which is all we ask of our guys.”

Leading eight-hit attack for Harris County in Game 1 were senior Will Howard (2-for-3, 2 RBI), senior Timmy Brooks (1-for-3, RBI) and senior Daniel Miller (1-for-2, double).

Cole Mathis, a sophomore, pitched the victory. In five innings, he allowed one earned run on six hits, two hit batters with three strikeouts. Miller notched a save with two scoreless and hitless innings of relief. He walked one and struck out one.

Harris County collected seven hits in Game 2, led by junior Ryan O’Steen (2-for-4, double), sophomore Cole Mathis (1-for-4, double, 2 RBI), junior Cole Stanford (1-for-3, double, RBI), sophomore Caden Frost (1-for-3, double, RBI) and senior John Mobley (2-for-3).

Tied 3-3 in the sixth inning, Harris County scored the winning run when junior Kaden Killingsworth reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second base and came home on Frost’s one-out double.

The Tigers (24-8) advanced to the Class AAAAA quarterfinals and will play May 8 at Decatur (28-6), starting at 4:30 p.m.

Russell County

In the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A third round (quarterfinals), the Area 6 champion Russell County Warriors (33-5) — ranked No. 1 in their state classification — lost the three-game series at home to Area 8 champion Chelsea (24-13).

They split Thursday’s doubleheader, with Russell County winning Game 1 8-7 and losing Game 2 12-6. Friday, the Warriors lost Game 3 6-3.

Game 1 was a dramatic victory for the Warriors. Down 6-0 in the second inning, junior Jackson Huguley’s two-run double highlighted a four-run frame.

Then with the deficit cut to 6-5, the Warriors tied it in the seventh inning as junior Zack Henderson singled up the middle to drive in junior Logan Austin from second base and force extra innings.

But they needed only one extra inning. After allowing Chelsea to go ahead 7-6 in the top of the eighth, the Warriors drew back-to-back walks with the bases loaded for the tying and winning runs.

Among the 12 hits for Russell County, junior Austin Embrey had three hits and Huguley had three RBI. Austin pitched seven innings and struck out eight.

In Game 2, the Warriors couldn’t recover from Chelsea’s 10-run second inning. They totaled 11 hits but committed three errors. Henderson and junior Zac Rice (2 RBI) had three hits each.

In Game 3, the Warriors were in another early hole, trailing 3-0 in the top of the first inning. Although they scored three runs of their own to tie it in the bottom of the inning, they didn’t score again. Eighth-grader Jaxon Yoxtheimer had two of Russell County’s seven hits. Henderson produced two RBI.

Calvary Christian

The year after the Calvary Christian baseball team won the school’s first state title in a varsity boys sport, the Knights have returned to the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association Division 1-AA championship series.

Calvary swept Community Christian 5-0 and 13-1 Friday at home.

The Knights (30-7) will play the final round at home May 10 against Johnson Ferry Christian, starting at 2 p.m.

Nick Morgan, a sophomore, pitched a complete-game shutout for Calvary in Game 1. He allowed one hit and struck out 10.

The Knights made the most of their four hits in Game 1, scoring single runs in all but the fourth inning. Jax Dyer, a sophomore, had the game’s only RBI and walked twice.

In Game 2, Calvary’s six-run first inning left no doubt about the outcome. Morgan (2 RBI) and senior Jackson Conner had two hits each as the Knights collected 11. Stephen Smith and Max Eikelberry, both seniors, drove in two runs apiece.

Matthew Pearce, a sophomore, pitched the victory. In four scoreless innings, he struck out seven.

Calvary started the eight-team tournament Monday with a sweep of Cornerstone Prep.

The Knights won Game 1 10-5. Their leading hitters were sophomore Caden Shirah (2-for-4, 2 runs), Morgan (2-for-3, home run, 3 RBI), sophomore Jesse Donohoe (3-for-4, RBI), sophomore Bradley Smith (2-for-3) and junior Tyler Watkins (1-for-3, home run, 4 RBI).

Zach Garcia, a senior, pitched the victory. In 5 1/3 innings, he allowed three hits and struck out 11. Peyton Holloway, a junoir, threw three 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.

In Game 2, the Knights won 12-1. Their leading hitters were Donohue (1-for-2, home run, 4 RBI), Dyer (1-for-1, 3 walks, 2 RBI) and Shirah (1-for-3, 2 runs).

Stephen Smith pitched the victory. In four scoreless innings, he allowed three hits and struck out four. Pearce and Watkins finished on the mound.

Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Mark Rice covers education and other issues related to youth. He also writes feature stories about any compelling topic. He has been reporting in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for more than a quarter-century. He welcomes your local news tips and questions.


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