CARTERSVILLE - It comes down to one game.
When the Callaway Cavaliers and Cartersville Purple Hurricanes take the field at 6 p.m. today, the stakes will be high.
While the winner will advance to the Class AAA final four, the loser will see its season come to a close.
The decisive Game 3 was made necessary when Callaway and Cartersville split the first two games of the series on Tuesday.
Callaway won the first game 1-0 behind a brilliant pitching performance from Perry Keith, and Cartersville evened the series with a 4-3 win.
Senior outfielder Chase Freeman said the Cavaliers will be ready.
“This is what we’ve been working hard for all season,” Freeman said. “We’ve been practicing, working out, we’re ready. We’re coming ready to play, and we’re going to come away with a victory.”
The Cavaliers didn’t face any suspense in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
In sweeps of Central-Macon and Appling County, the Cavaliers won their four games by a combined score of 50-0.
The story has been drastically different against Cartersville, though.
Both games have been decided by one run, and now Callaway has to bounce back from its first playoff loss.
“We told our kids all year long, at some point you’re going to face adversity,” Callaway coach Dusty Hubbard said. “We’ll see how we’ll respond.”
Hubbard will likely put the ball in the hands of junior Cody Mimbs today.
Mimbs, who hasn’t pitched in the playoffs, has been a dependable starter for the Cavaliers this season, and he is 4-2 with a 3.43 earned run average.
Junior Terry Godwin, who is 3-0 with a 1.87 ERA, is also ready to go today, and freshman Dylan Johnson is available after throwing two scoreless innings in Game 2 on Tuesday.
“We’ve got Cody, Dylan, (Godwin),” Hubbard said. “We’ve got some guys we feel we can throw out there. We’re going to throw them out there and see what they’ve got.”
Hubbard said Keith, who threw seven shutout innings in Game 1, could also pitch if needed.
“If he had to, I think Perry could come back and throw an inning,” Hubbard said. “He threw 83 pitches. A guy like that, he’ll be sore, but he’ll give you an inning.”
Hubbard believes the pitchers will do the job today, and he hopes the offense is up to the task as well.
The Cavaliers left a lot of runners on base during Tuesday’s games.
“We’ve got to do a better job executing offensively,” Hubbard said. “If we can do that, I like our chances.”
If the Cavaliers pull off the win today, they’ll advance to the semifinals for the second time in school history.
“The guys are ready,” Hubbard said. “They’ve done the job, they’re ready. It’s going to be fun.”