Six baseball teams remain in pursuit of state championship
by Carlton D. White
May 07, 2014 04:00 AM | 3471 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Zach Teem and his Kennesaw Mountain teammates made the second round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs by sweeping Alcovy. The Mustangs are one of six Cobb County teams still alive.
<br>Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
Zach Teem and his Kennesaw Mountain teammates made the second round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs by sweeping Alcovy. The Mustangs are one of six Cobb County teams still alive.
Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
Kennesaw Mountain and Mount Paran Christian were the only local region champions to advance into the second round of the state baseball tournament, which begins today.

Joining them are McEachern, Lassiter, North Cobb and Walton.

Region champions Sprayberry and Allatoona were ousted in the first round, as was defending Class AAAAA state champion Pope, a No. 2 seed.

Region 4AAAAAA champion Kennesaw Mountain (22-6) rolled into the second round after outscoring Alcovy 23-1 in two games.

“There were a couple of No. 1 and No. 2 seeds who went down around the state,” Mustangs coach George Hansen said. “That’s scary. One bad day and it can all be over, but fortunately, things went well for us. It’s important for us to make sure we’re playing sharp all of the time. We didn’t want to let up on Alcovy.

“I’m most proud of how we played the second game. They had a strong, left-handed pitcher, but I feel like we hit the ball better in that game against him than we did in the first game. That shows how focused the guys came ready to play.”

Kennesaw Mountain will host Tift County (23-4) for a 5 p.m. doubleheader today. The Blue Devils are coming off a weekend in which they outscored Tri-Cities 28-0.

“(Tift County) is an offensive team with some power,” Hansen said. “They’ve had a lot of success and that’s why they’re 23-4. They don’t cheat on swings. Our pitching will have to be good and we’ll have to score some runs to give ourselves a chance. We do that, and our pitchers don’t have to feel any pressure to be perfect. They can just relax and play their game.”

Joining Kennesaw Mountain from Region 4AAAAAA are No. 2 seed North Cobb and No. 4 seed McEachern. The Warriors (19-9) will visit Region 1AAAAAA champion Coffee (19-9) today at 4:30 p.m., while the Indians (17-11) will visit 1AAAAAA No. 3 Valdosta (20-8) at 4:30 p.m.

North Cobb beat Rockdale County handily in the first round, while McEachern needed three games to top Newton.

“Obviously, we’ve had our ups and downs this year,” McEachern coach Dan Torrenti said. “This senior class has weathered a bunch of storms. I was really proud of the kids after the Game 1 loss. They responded and had a positive attitude. It was a tough series.”

After failing to reach the second round as a No. 1 seed last year, McEachern is making the most of its opportunities as a fourth seed.

“Playoff baseball is different,” Torrenti said. “I think last year’s experience definitely helped. Guys have a good idea what to expect. That raised their level of play and we hope it continues to move forward.”

Region 5AAAAAA runner-up Walton (22-6) and No. 4 seed Lassiter (13-15) will both be on the road following first-round victories. The Raiders swept Region 7AAAAAA No. 3 Peachtree Ridge, and the Trojans upset Region 7AAAAAA champion Mountain View in two games.

Lassiter will visit Region 6AAAAAA runner-up Johns Creek (16-11) today at 5 p.m., and Walton will visit Region 8AAAAAA champion Parkview (24-5) at 4:30 p.m.

Parkview and Walton both have their eyes set on the quarterfinals after reaching the state semifinals a season ago.

“It’s going to be two good teams squaring off,” Walton coach Shane Amos said. “(Parkview) has tradition, and they’ve been there before just like us, so there won’t be any problem with motivation for either of us.”

Amos liked how his team played in its first-round sweep.

“It’s good to get the first series out of the way,” he said. “You have to wait a week to play after the last region game, so you don’t know how the kids are going to react. Now, they’re in a bit of a rhythm to try and get two more wins.”

Region 6A champion Mount Paran (25-3) earned the No. 2 power rating for the Class A private-school state playoffs and soundly swept No. 15 Aquinas. The Eagles will host Savannah Christian (17-9) today at 2 p.m.

“We missed some chances early (against Aquinas), but capitalized later and did what we were supposed to do,” Mount Paran coach Kyle Reese said. “It’s a clean slate going into the next round. If we can get our pitchers to pound the strike zone like they did against Aquinas, then I think we’ll have a good chance.”
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