Rematches on tap in state tournament

Published 1:06 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – On a mild winter’s day in the middle of February, the LaGrange Grangers and Troup Tigers opened their respective seasons against opponents from Columbus.

It was a winning day for both teams, with LaGrange outlasting Northside 2-0, and Troup edging Hardaway 2-1.

This week, those teams will be squaring off once again, and the stakes will be considerably higher this time around.

In the second round of the Class AAAA state baseball playoffs, it’ll be Troup hosting Hardaway, while LaGrange will be at home against Northside.

Also this week, the Callaway Cavaliers will continue their state journey with a home series against Dodge County in the second round of the Class AA playoffs.

While Callaway and Troup were guaranteed to be at home because they’re number one seeds, LaGrange needed some help.

Northside, a number four seed from Region 1-AAAA, upset top-seeded Cross Creek to advance in the Class AAAA playoffs, giving LaGrange another home series.

LaGrange, the number two seed from Region 5-AAAA, secured its spot in the second round with a dominant performance against Chestatee, the third seed from Region 7-AAAA.

After winning the first game of Friday’s doubleheader 10-0, LaGrange won the second game by the same 10-0 score to finish the sweep.

Northside beat Cross Creek by scores of 12-2 and 6-4.

LaGrange (21-11) and Northside will play a doubleheader on Wednesday at 5 p.m. (the series was moved up a day because of weather concerns), and if needed, a third and deciding game would be Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

On the line is a berth in the elite eight against the winner of the Luella and Stephens County series.

“They’re really good,” LaGrange head coach David Smart said of Northside. “It doesn’t shock me one bit. So it’ll be a heck of a series.”

In the earlier meeting, which was at Granger Park, Ben Anderson pitched six shutout innings, and Matthew Anderson threw a scoreless seventh inning.

The Grangers, who were limited to one hit, scored their two runs in the third inning when David Sweat and Anderson came home on wild pitches.

That was enough support for Anderson, who gave up one hit in six innings with 11 strikeouts.

Troup (22-11), the champion of Region 5-AAAA, reached the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs with a win over West Hall.

The series went the full three games, and Troup won 6-1 on Saturday to reach the second round.

Hardaway, the third-place team from Region 1-AAAA, beat Burke County 10-6 in Game 3 on Saturday to advance.

In the earlier game against Hardaway, Colby Williams pitched six shutout innings and gave up just one hit, and he also drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh.

Ryan Bliss, who allowed an unearned run in the top of the seventh, got the win.

“It helps that I’ve seen them before,” Williams said.

The two teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader on Thursday at 5 p.m., with the if-game set for Friday at 5:30 p.m.

If Troup gets past Hardaway, its quarterfinal opponent would be either Heritage or Woodward Academy.

Callaway, which won the Region 5-AA championship, swept Chattooga County 11-1 and 6-5 to reach the second round.

Callaway’s opponent will be Dodge County, the third-place team from Region 2-AAA. Dodge County beat Fitzgerald 4-0 and 17-2 to reach the second round.

They’re scheduled to play a doubleheader on Thursday at 4:30 p.m., with the if-game set for Friday.

Dodge County and Callaway have some history against each other.

The two teams met in the second round of the state playoffs, and it was Dodge County winning the series in three games.

The winner of the Callaway and Dodge County series will play either Banks County or Toombs County in the second round.