Baseball in Houston County became nationally known in 2007, when Warner Robins American Little League won World Series in South Williamsport, Pa.
On Monday, Houston County will try to become the first high school team school from the county to win a state championship since Perry in 1991.
The Bears – who travel to Whitewater for the Class AAAAA final on Monday - couldn’t be more prepared. The team has seven starters who were members of the three Warner Robins Little League teams that have played in the World Series since 2007.
‘’A lot of these kids have played on bigger stages than this,’’ Houston County coach Jason Brett said. “They’ve played in front of the 40,000 people and ESPN. The pressure doesn’t really get to these guys as you might expect.’’
Houston County center fielder Hunt Smith played on Warner Robins’ 2007 World Series champion.
Members of the 2009 team are third baseman Blake Johnson (a Georgia Tech signee), shortstop/pitcher Justin Jones (signed with Georgia State), second baseman/pitcher Hunter Phillips (committed to Georgia Southern), catcher Jeremiah Stevens and pitcher Connor Smith. First baseman Jake Frohm, a freshman starter, played on the 2011 World Series team.
While Houston County and Whitewater play a double-header, three other state-final series will be decided Monday, each with a Game 3.
In AAAAAA, Lambert plays at Milton. Lambert is ranked No. 1 nationally by USA Today. Milton is the defending champion.
Crisp County goes to Carrollton n the AAAA final. Carrollton last won a state title in 1962. Crisp last won in 1961. In Savannah, Greater Atlanta Christian plays Benedictine in the AA final. GAC last won in 1982. Benedictine’s last title was in 1961.
Championships were clinched last week in AAA (Blessed Trinity), A public (Charlton County) and A private (King’s Ridge).
The Houston County-Whitewater final matches schools that have never won baseball titles. Whitewater has made six straight semifinals without a championship.
Houston County can become the first Houston school to win since Perry in 1991. Brett was an eighth-grader that season for Perry.
Brett says Middle Georgia baseball has been pretty good for years and points out major leaguers such as Kevin Brown and Kal Daniels. But the recent Little League success – with World Series appearances in 2007, 2009 and 2011 – has taken the sport to a new level locally.
‘’Warner Robins, obviously it’s known as a football town, but it’s a baseball town too,’’ Brett said. ‘’The Little League program has done well, and the expectations for baseball are increasingly higher. I think everybody in Houston County, all the schools, are excited about a school from here winning a state title. It takes a lot to get to this point. When one of us does it, it’s big.’’
AAAAAA – Lambert at Milton, 3 p.m.
AAAAA –Houston County at Whitewater, 3 p.m.*
AAAA - Crisp County at Carrollton, 3 p.m.
AA - Greater Atlanta Christian at Benedictine, 1:30 p.m.
*Double-header (Games 1-2). Rest are Game 3.