Cherokee County will have its first state baseball champion in 59 years.
Etowah and Woodstock – both unranked with losing records in region play – each won a Game 3 Thursday to advance to the Class AAAAAAA championship series next week.
Etowah defeated third-ranked Mill Creek 5-4. Woodstock beat second-ranked North Gwinnett 4-3.
Both Cherokee teams have won four straight playoff rounds on the road after finishing tied for third place in strong Region 4, each with 7-8 records.
The last Cherokee County team to win a state title in baseball was Canton in 1948.
Below are recaps of all 16 semifinals. Best finale was Wayne County's 10-inning win over 2016 state champion Locust Grove in AAAAAA. Check it out.
Etowah d. Mill Creek 0-1, 5-0, 5-4: Drew Waters scored three runs, two after walks and one after a home run, as Mill Creek won 5-4 in deciding Game 3 on Thursday. Ethan Underwood, who pitched 10 scoreless innings in a Game 1 loss, got the save after getting a clutch double-play grounder with the winning run on first for Mill Creek. Brady Jones (5.1 IP, 3 H, 4 SO) was the winning pitcher. Weston Campbell was 2-or-3 with three RBI. Etowah won 5-0 in Game 2 on Nick Torres’ two-hit shutout with nine strikeouts. Waters hit a two-run double in that win. Mill Creek won the opener 1-0 in 11 innings in a duel between Underwood and Mill Creek’s C. Rutherford (8 IP, 3 H, 8 SO).
Woodstock d North Gwinnett 3-2, 2-10, 4-3: Caleb Bartolo hit two homers and drove in all four Woodstock runs in Game 3. His three-run homer in the fourth inning staked Woodstock to a 4-0 lead. Brant Hurter, a 6-foot-6 lefthander who has signed with Georgia Tech, struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the win. Hurter was the Game 1 winner as he pitched a complete-game seven-hitter in a 3-2 win. He had eight strikeouts.
Pope d. River Ridge 7-6, 10-0: Pope rallied from a 6-1 deficit and scored five in the sixth inning and the game-winner on a bases-loaded walk. Buddy Floyd was 3-for-4. Parker Orr and Michael Wynne had two hits apiece. In Game 2, Orr and Antonio Jareno homered (Jareno’s a grand slam), and Chase Smith (5 IP, 7 SO), Scotty Lesieur (1 IP) and Max Pralgo (1 IP) combined on a four-hitter.
Lee County d. Johns Creek 7-4, 5-3: Lee County scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning on Tyler Simon’s two-run double to win Game 2. Simon pitched the final four innings, allowing one run on two hits, and was the winner. Malik Spratling was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. In Game 1, Josh Hatcher was 2-for-3 with a home run and 3 RBI. He also was the winning pitcher as he survived 12 hits. Brenton Phillips and Garret Suiter also had two hits apiece. Matt Gravely was 5-for-7 in the series for Johns Creek. Note: Johns Creek's appeal of the Game 2 outcome will be heard Friday at the GHSA offices in Thomaston. Johns Creek scored what appeared to be a game-winning run on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh inning of a 3-3 game. Umpires ruled that a Johns Creek runner failed to advance third base to complete the play.
Wayne County d Locust Grove 16-1, 4-7, 8-7: Wayne County won an incredible Game 3 as Cade Lambert hit a two-run walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning. Locust Grove had scored three runs in the top of the seventh to stay in the game, then two in the ninth for a 6-4 lead. Wayne County scored two in the bottom of the ninth to tie, then rallied from an 7-6 deficit in the bottom of the 10th to win it. Lambert was 3-for-5 with three RBI. Joshua Gordon, David Moseley and Griffin Boykin also had two hits apiece. James Mauldin was 6-for-12 with three doubles and six RBI in the series. J.T. Crosby pitched a four-hitter with eight strikeouts in the Game 1 win.
Loganville d. Starr’s Mill 0-1, 3-1, 9-3: Loganville broke a 3-3 tie in deciding Game 3 with a six-run seventh inning. Dylan Strickland was 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI as Loganville eliminated No. 1-ranked Starr’s Mill with a 9-3 win Thursday. Aaron Knight was 2-for-4 with a double. Seth Clark (4 IP) and Bryant Pietri (3 IP) allowed only four hits and no earned runs. Loganville won Game 2 with only two hits. Bay Witcher pitched a five-hitter and struck out eight. Loganville lost Game 1 despite its own Joseph Brandon’s one-hitter. Jake Arnold threw a shutout for Starr’s Mill.
Blessed Trinity d. Heritage-Ringgold 12-0, 6-4: Blessed Trinity won the opener on Peyton Glavine’s five-inning, three-hit shutout. He walked none and struck out three. David Dunn was 3-for-3 with a triple. Ryan Davis, Colin Davis and Michael Markwordt were 2-for-3. Mitchell Weidner hit a three-run homer. Blessed Trinity trailed 4-1 early in Game 2 but scored three in the fourth to tie and two on Jake Smith’s single in the seventh to win it. Smith got the win with 2.1 scoreless innings of relief of Patrick McNamara. Dunn was 2-for-4 and hit another triple. Smith and Weidner each were 2-fo-2.
Marist d. LaGrange 5-0, 9-0: In Game 1, Connor Stephens pitched 6.2 innings, allowing three hits, striking out three. Marist scored one run in the sixth and four in the seventh, the big hit Joseph Mannelly’s two-run double. In Game 2, sophomore Seb Thomas pitched five shutout innings. He allowed four hits and struck out none. Marist scored three in the first, four in the third. In the series, Charlie Benson was 4-for-6, and Mannelly was 3-for-5. LaGrange had only three baserunners reach third base in the series.
Pierce County d. Coahulla Creek 5-1, 5-0: Cody Williams threw a two-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts in the opener. Ben Tuten was 3-for-4 with two RBI. Stetson Bennett was 2-for-4. In Game 2, Coy Sinclair and Cody Grant each were 2-for-3. Sinclair had a double, and Grant pitched a three-hitter with six strikeouts and no earned runs allowed.
North Hall d. Calhoun 10-1, 3-0: Corban Meeler pitched a two-hit shutout with six strikeouts in clinching Game 2. North Hall scored single runs in the first three innings. In Game 2, Meeler was 2-for-3 with a double. Jackson Latty was 2-for-3 with three RBI, and Taber Mongero was 3-for-4 with a double and three runs scored. Reese Olson pitched a complete game, allowing four hits and no earned runs. He struck out five.
Jeff Davis d. Toombs County 9-6, 13-3: Trailing 6-3 in the bottom o the sixth inning, Jeff Davis scored six runs and never looked back. The Yellow Jackets pounded out 22 hits and 19 runs in the series. Third baseman Seth Graham was 4-for-7 with a double. DH Hogan White was 3-for-6. Cody Oglivie pitched a two-hitter in a five-inning run-rule Game 2. He struck out seven. He also closed Game 1 with one inning and two strikeouts.
Elbert County d. Bacon County 2-3, 2-1, 6-1: Colton Moon pitched six strong innings in Game 3, a 6-1 victory. Moon allowed seven hits, no walks, and struck out seven. He also was the winning pitcher in Game 2. Avery Hunt was 6-for-11 with a double in the series. Zack Brady was 6-fo-9 with a double. Moon was 4-for-7 with a triple.
Schley County d. Telfair County 6-2, 18-1: Schley County put up 10 runs in the first inning, seven in the second, in the 18-1, three-inning run-rule Game 1. The Wildcats were 14-of-20 at the plate. Chase Patrick was 3-for-3 with two RBI and allowed only one hit in his three-inning complete game. He had two hits, one a double, in the first inning alone. Will Barry, Wade Law, Cameron Belcher had two hits apiece. In the opener, Patrick, Barry and Law had two hits. Barry (5 IP, 1 ER, 4 SO) was the winning pitcher. Clint Sellers pitched two scoreless innings of relief.
Gordon Lee d. Charlton County 4-3, 1-3, 10-6: Gordon Lee took advantage of eight walks and six Charlton County errors and scored 10 runs in the finale, seven that were unearned. Gordon Lee put the defending champions on the ropes in Game 1 by scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth for a 4-3 lead that stood. Dylan Minghini was 4-for-7 with two doubles in the series.
Savannah Christian d. Athens Christian 2-1, 2-0: Down 1-0, Savannah Christian scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to snatch Game 1. Kyle Hilton started it with a single, and Drew Malphrus and Nick Arrowood each had RBI singles with two outs, Arrowood’s in walk-off fashion. Zack Brockman pitched a one-hitter and struck out eight. In Game 2, Hilton pitched a three-hitter with seven strikeouts and no walks. Justin Anderson was 3-for-3 with a double and scored both Raider runs.
Tattnall Square d. Holy Innocents’ 5-0, 9-3: Matt Blair pitched a two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in the opener. Trey Ham hit a two-run homer, and Austin Marchman was 2-for-3. In Game 2, Garrett Houston was 4-for-4 with three RBI and was the winning pitcher. He allowed four hits and two earned runs and had eight strikeouts. Mikey Wilson was 3-for-3 with three runs scored. Tattnall Square is 31-3, including 6-0 in the playoffs, and has won 10 straight games.