Photo by Derrick Mahone
Eagle's Landing Christian coach Doug Campbell says that “being at home might be a big plus" for his team as they take on No. 2-ranked Mount Paran in the second round of the Class A playoffs on Wednesday.
Three Southern Crescent teams survived the first round of the state playoffs to advance to Wednesday’s next round.
Luella, Mundy’s Mill and Eagle’s Landing Christian won their opening round games and play in their respective classification’s second round. Luella, which is ranked No. 4 in Class AAAAA, will host No. 3 Grayson in the second round, while No. 8 ELCA hosts second-ranked Mount Paran in a Class A matchup.
Mundy’s Mill, the No. 2 seed from Region 4-AAAA, will travel to Marist, the Region 6-AAAA champion, for a second round game. Neither team is ranked.
Both Luella and ELCA swept their first round best-of-three match-ups, while Mundy’s Mill needed a third game to eliminate Jones County at home.
“It was a tough fight for us,” Mundy’s Mill coach Patrick Smith said. “We knew we had a quality ball club, but it is a relief.”
Keylin Price, a courtesy runner for Corey Harmon, scored the Tigers’ go-ahead run in a 4-2 defeat of Jones County on Saturday.
Jordan Robinson, a freshman, got the win and Harmon picked up the save. In the opening game, Harmon got the win after going six innings while giving up two hits and recording seven strikeouts.
Marist advanced to the second round by defeating Villa Rica in three games. The War Eagles lost the opening game, but won the next two to advance.
ELCA swept Commerce 9-0 and 8-2 to set up a rematch with Mount Paran, the team that eliminated the Chargers in last season’s first round.
“They have pretty much their entire team returning from last season,” ELCA coach Doug Campbell said. “Being at home might be a big plus for us.”
The Chargers will face a Mount Paran team that has only lost twice this season and only once in Class A, to Darlington. Mount Paran has won seven straight by outscoring its opponents 58-13.
The Eagles might have some added motivation for the postseason after they learned that coach Harvey Cochran will not be retained for next season. Cochran, a longtime successful coach in Cobb County, was told last week that he would be relieved of his duties at the end of the season.
ELCA coach Doug Campbell downplayed the fact that Mount Paran players might be charged to send their coach of four years out on top.
“I don’t know what type of emotions it will be,” Campbell said. “Baseball is a little different than the other sports. You have to beat the guy on the mound. You can’t just will yourself to a win.”
Luella found the right guys on the mound to survive some scary moments in the first round against Coffee.
Up big in Game 1, the Lions saw Coffee battle back. Luella held on for the 12-7 win thanks to senior lefty Matt Kelley, who earned the win. Then, up 5-0 after two innings in Game 2, the Lions needed 3 1/3 innings of solid relief from senior left-hander Kendall Hill to hold on for a 5-4 win.
Now, Luella (21-6) will face a Grayson team that comes stocked with pitching and a bit of favorable history on the Rams’ side. The Lions have lost in the quarterfinals the past two seasons to a team north of Atlanta.
They’re hoping to change that this season.
“The team’s mindset is good,” Luella senior first baseman Eric Pape said. “[Monday] was probably one of the most intense practices we’ve had. We know Grayson’s a good ball club. We know they’ve got good pitching.
“We know we can’t take a day off. Everybody’s real focused.”