Rivalries headline championship weekend

Milton HS

Georgia will not see a defending state champion take the podium in 2013. All five AA-AAAAAA matchups feature teams either in pursuit of their first state title or looking to once again wear the crown.




The GHSA added Class AAAAAA this season, and the state’s new highest classification sets up a matchup between Region 5 rivals Milton and Roswell. The Hornets have been waiting since 1986 to return the title to Roswell while Milton last won it in 2004. The 2013 Class AAAAAA final sets up like 2012 when Region 8 rivals Brookwood and Parkview played. The trend of the toughest regions producing postseason success with battle-tested teams continues.


In region play, Milton and Roswell squared off twice with Milton winning both (7-3, 6-1). Will Jackson and Payton Smith recorded the wins during the season, and Milton’s deep pitching staff includes Dylan Cease and Alex Schnell. Cease and Schnell stifled the bats of defending-champion Parkview in Games 2 and 3 of the semis.


Roswell, meanwhile, handled the pressure of the postseason by winning three road series. In the semifinals Walton took Roswell to a Game 3, but the Hornets’ loss in Game 2 was a 1-0 decision in which they outhit the Raiders 7-3. In Game 3, Syd Hopkins had two doubles and a base hit in Roswell’s 7-6 win. Roswell is a superb base-running team and scored multiple runs in the semifinals off sacrifice bunts and advantageous hitting when runners were in scoring position.




Greenbrier and Pope will battle for the AAAAA title. Greenbrier has been the visiting team the entire playoffs and carries the momentum of a 2-0 sweep over Whitewater into the finals. Adam Grice carried the Wolf Pack in Game 1 to a 5-4 comeback win with a solo home run and two-run double. In Game 2, Greenbrier erased its deficit by scoring all six of their runs in with two outs. In the series, all 11 runs were scored with two outs. The lineup is deep with hitters and forces opposing pitchers into high pitch counts.


Pope features impressive pitching with aces Braden Zarbnisky and Nathaniel Lowe. Zarbnisky and Lowe will be be needed to minimize the Wolf Pack’s knack for late inning rallies. The Greyhounds arrive fresh off a Game 3 walk-off win over Starr’s Mill in extra innings.




Marist is looking for its third title in four years and will host Redan in the Class AAAA final. Marist swept Crisp County in the semis after two outstanding pitching performances. In Game 1 Michael Toner carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning in a 6-3 win, and in Game 2, Sean Guenther pitched a complete game, striking out 13 batters in a 2-1 decision.


Redan, in its first state finals appearance, got solid pitching from its bullpen and timely hits from Trega Williams and Bakari Gayle. Williams bombed a three-run walkoff homer in the Raiders’ 9-8 Game 1 win and Gayle drove in the go-ahead-run in the bottom of the sixth in the decisive 3-2 win in Game 3.




North Hall hosts perennial-power Cartersville in the Class AAA finals. Cartersville claimed consecutive titles in 2008-09, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals the past three seasons. The Purple Hurricanes swept St. Pius X in the semifinals as Austin Adams and Beau Benefield provided the run support within the lineup of capable hitters. Cartersville pitcher Hayes Linn will be rested for the finals after going six innings and giving up one earned in their 4-3 Game 1 win in the semis.


North Hall, like Redan, is in its first final appearance ever. The Trojans have excellent pitching, and in the semifinals, Preston Graham pitched a one-hitter in Game 1. Colton Duttweiler and Graham combined to toss a two-hitter in Game 3.




Lovett versus Westminster is another rivalry matchup, as the Buckhead neighbors will square off in the Class AA championship. Westminster swept Lovett earlier this season by winning three close games.


In the postseason, the Wildcats are a perfect 8-0 and have outscored their opponents 60-10. Ace Hays Meyer threw a no-hitter in Game 1 of the semifinals series against Pepperell. Conrad Cornell pitched a complete game in the series clincher, giving up one earned in the 5-1 Westminster win.


Lovett’s Mitch Stallings struck out 10 batters in his Game 1 win in the semis and Pearce Howell gave up three earned runs and struck out 14 in the Game 2 loss. Grant Haley, Sean Reagan and Nick Boden lead the Lions’ batting lineup.

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