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Henry Co. travels to Lee Co. for Class AAAA state title

By Doug Gorman

dgorman@news-daily.com

The scenario for the Henry County baseball team is simple--win twice at Lee County and bring home the school's first ever state championship.

The long awaited Class AAAA championship series starts today with a doubleheader at 4 p.m.

An if game, would be played at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, should the two teams split today's games.

"We are focused and ready to play,' said Henry County head coach Troy Baker. "We aren't go to change anything at this stage."

Henry County's road to the best-of-three Class AAAA Championship series was wet and muddy, as the Warhawks waited out four days of rain delays before finally beating Heritage Saturday in the third and final game of the semifinal series.

All three games between Henry County and Heritage were decided by one run. Heritage won the first game, but the Warhawks held on for victories in the final two contest to secure the team's trip to south Georgia.

Lee County should be well rested. The Trojans haven't played in more than a week after sweeping Evans in its semifinal playoff series on Memorial Day.

Henry County appealed to the Georgia High School Association in hopes of starting the series on Wednesday, but the request was turned down.

The Trojans opened the playoffs with a sweep against Henry County rival Luella, and haven't lost in the playoffs.

Lee County also swept Lakeside-Evans and East Paulding en route to advancing to this week's championship series.

Until taking the Heritage series to a third game, the Warhawks went through the playoffs without a loss.

The Warhawks started the playoffs with sweeps against Bainbridge and Statesboro, then won a thrilling best-of-three playoff against Marist with a sweep.

Lee County comes into the contest with a 31-3 record, including a 12-0 record in region Region 1-AAAA action.

The squad lost two games in a row to teams from Florida, but put together an 18-game winning streak before losing to Lowndes County in the Region 1-AAAA tournament.

For Henry County, the season started with a four-game losing streak, before the Warhawks got their season on track and finished with a 23-9 record.

In the middle of the season, the Warhawks rolled off seven wins in a row.

Henry County has relied on Matt Clark and Jason Heyward to do the bulk of the starting pitching, with Jeremy Hardy handling the bulk of the relief pitching, especially in a closing role.

Hardy comes into the championship series with eight saves

However, as the team proved Saturday in the final game against Heritage, others can step it up and pitch too.

Senior Greg Lindsey started Saturday's game and worked four innings before turning the pitching controls over to Hardy.

In addition to his 76 strike outs, Clark has also displayed plenty of power, including eight home runs.

His homer in the second game against Heritage helped lead the Warhawks to the victory.

Lindsey has also been a threat to steal throughout the season, with a 29-of-29 average.

Coleton Segars comes into the championship series with a .397 average. Heyard is batting .371.

At least in one of the games, the Warhawks will have to face Buster Posey, a Florida State signee, and a project high pick in the upcoming major league draft.