Kennesaw Mountain coach George Hansen said the top four playoff teams and the region champion is expected to be determined by the amount of losses, not wins.
When it comes to the end, two of these teams will not be in the postseason.
Hansen’s Mustangs and Marietta lead the standings with only two losses each and McEachern, North Cobb, Hillgrove and Harrison each have three. In moving forward, Marietta, Hillgrove and Harrison still have four back-to-back, home-and-home series to play and Kennesaw Mountain, McEachern and North Cobb have three.
“You almost have to go into a series, thinking I can’t lose,” Hansen said. “If you get swept, you’re in trouble. You have to at least come out of these series with a split. Anyone, from this point on, could get swept, and that might be the difference. It’s going to be an interesting nightmare by the time we get to the end.”
Hillgrove (11-7, 5-3) just avoided a potential nightmare by sweeping McEachern on Saturday. The Hawks have struggled at the plate but stayed in the hunt with their pitching and defensive play. Against McEachern, they came through with timely hits.
The sweep over McEachern gives Hillgrove much needed momentum with South Cobb and North Cobb on the horizon.
“I think our region is extremely balanced and anyone can win or get beaten,” Hillgrove coach Dave Richardson said. “I think it’s a balanced region, one through nine, and you have to come ready to play every night.”
McEachern’s remaining schedule won’t be an easily one, but if the Indians have a strength, coach Dan Torrenti said, it’s resiliency. The Indians (12-7-1, 7-3) will need to be resilient as they try to overcome a three-game losing streak going into their upcoming series this week against Marietta, which has won six of its last eight games.
“We don’t have time to lick our wounds,” Torrenti said. “In the two losses (to Hillgrove), I thought we stayed in it and didn’t give up on ourselves. The series didn’t come out how we wanted it and hope the Marietta series will.”
Marietta (6-9, 6-2) started clicking once 4AAAAAA play started after opening the season with a 1-7 record.
A sweep over Pebblebrook and Campbell and a split against Kennesaw Mountain and Hillgrove to start region play has put the Blue Devils in contention. And Marietta still has series against McEachern, Harrison and North Cobb on the schedule.
Kennesaw Mountain appears to be in the best shape of the six teams with a pitching staff ERA below 1.00. The Mustangs must at least split against Harrison, Pebblebrook and McEachern.
“If we do well this week, we’re sitting pretty good,” Hansen said. “Every game we go out there, we know that our pitchers are going to give us a chance to win.”
North Cobb may be playing its best baseball, having won games six in a row that includes sweeps over South Cobb and Campbell and winning its first game of the series against Harrison.
The Hoyas arguably have the toughest road of the six and they haven’t played well as of late.
Harrison is looking to overcome a four-game losing streak after winning eight straight. They still have one more game against North Cobb at home, after getting shutout 10-0 in six innings on the road Friday, and will have series against Kennesaw Mountain, Marietta, South Cobb and Hillgrove to close the season.