Three local baseball teams played doubleheaders Wednesday in the best-of-three Georgia High School Association state quarterfinals. All of the series were decided in sweeps. Only one Columbus area team emerged victorious.
For the first time in the program’s 17-year history, the Northside Patriots advanced to the state semifinals.
In the Class AAAA quarterfinals at Region 5 first seed Cartersville, the Region 1 third-seeded Patriots prevailed in two tight games, 3-1 in 10 innings then 4-2 in the nightcap.
“I’m just really excited for our kids,” said fifth-year Northside head coach Dee Miller. “Going on the road to Cartersville and beating them twice when they haven’t lost a home game all year just speaks to how tough this group is.”
In Game 1, sophomore Connor O’Neal came through with the winning hit as he drove in senior Clayton Weaver and junior Mack Williams.
The game’s leading hitters for the Patriots among their 12 hits were O’Neal (2-for-5) Weaver (2-for-5), junior Tray Richburg (2-for-5, double), freshman Justin Veloz (2-for-4) and senior Spencer Chandler (2-for-5).
Colton Joyner, a senior, delivered the pitching victory. In nine innings, he allowed one run, which was unearned, on eight hits and two walks while striking out five. Hunter Poe, a junior, got the save with a hitless inning.
In Game 2, Weaver, Williams and Poe again played key roles. With the Patriots trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Weaver and Williams scored to tie the game, and Poe’s “heads-up” baserunning in the fifth gave Northside the eventual winning run, Miller said.
The game’s leading hitters for the Patriots among their eight hits were Poe (2-for-2, 1 run), Williams (2 runs) and Chandler (1-for-3, 2 RBI).
Connor Sizemore, a sophomore, pitched the complete-game victory. In seven innings, he allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
“The starting pitching Colton Joyner and Connor Sizemore gave us in both games was huge,” Miller said. “… They were able to keep a really talented offense off balance.”
Assessing his team’s overall performance, Miller said, “We weren’t perfect, but the kids competed their guts out all night. We talked about what it would take multiple times during our preparation leading up to the games, and the kids went out and stuck to the plan.”
The Patriots (28-7) will play a doubleheader May 14 at Region 8 first seed North Oconee in the Class AAAA Final Four. The game times weren’t available before this story’s deadline.
Northside was on track to meet crosstown rival Columbus in the Final Four, but the Region 1 second-seeded Blue Devils were blanked 5-0 and 3-0 at North Oconee.
Columbus totaled more errors (five) than hits (three) in the two games, while North Oconee totaled 13 hits and one error.
In Game 1, two North Oconee pitchers combined on a no-hitter. In Game 2, the Blue Devils trailed only 1-0 going into the seventh inning, but North Oconee scored twice to seal the series.
The Blue Devils finished their season 24-9.
The Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in Game 1 and led 5-3 after three innings, but they didn’t recover from Decatur’s four-run fourth.
The game’s leading hitters for the Tigers among their nine hits were Cole Stanford (2 hits, 3 RBI) and Daniel Miller (2 hits).
In Game 2, the Tigers collected only three hits.
Harris County finished its season 25-10.