GAINESVILLE — It didn’t take long after the North Hall baseball team had dispatched Calhoun in a tidy two-game sweep in the Class AAA semifinals Wednesday night to find out who the Trojans would have to battle for its first-ever state title.
The only question that remained was WHERE will the two teams meet for the 2017 championship series.
With the new classification changes by the Georgia High School Association at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, the baseball finals for all classifications, for the first time ever, will be played at neutral sites. Four finals will be at the home of the Rome Braves in Rome and four others will be in Savannah Grayson Stadium at the home of the Savannah Bananas.
The Trojans will take on playoff stalwart Pierce County in the AAA finals after the Bears swept past Coahulla Creek 5-1 and 5-0 in the other semifinals.
The two programs are no strangers to each other. North Hall knocked off the Bears in 2013 in Blackshear in a fierce three-game battle in the quarterfinals that saw the Trojans rally from a Game 1 loss.
North Hall coach Trent Mongero said the who didn’t matter and neither did the where when it comes to the finals.
“There’s only two teams left and we’re one of them so it didn’t matter to us about either one of those,” he said Thursday morning after a tired but jubilant night of celebrating. "We're still enjoying this one for a few days. We'll start looking at that series soon."
The GHSA had stated that a major criteria for the where of each finals series would be proximity to each school to help with team and fan travel. GHSA officials said on Monday they would wait until all eight tournament brackets were finished. One series is slated to begin Thursday while five others are set to conclude with Game Three's on Thursday.
However, what we know after Wednesday’s action is that Class AAAAAAA will automatically be in Rome, as per GHSA officials. Class A Private will have two south Georgia teams in the finals and seems destined for Savannah.
Class A Public has one south Georgia team already in the finals with one Rome-area team and another south Georgia team still vying for the final spot. Class AA has yet to have any finals teams decided while Class AAAA is set with Atlanta-area teams Marist and Blessed Trinity already advancing.
Both Class AAAAA series split on Wednesday with one south Georgia team, two middle Georgia teams, and Loganville still alive. Class AAAAAA is set with Lee County in the south and Pope out of Cobb County clinching finals spots so that could go to either venue.
That leaves Class AAA. The Bears are in the south and North Hall in the northern half of the state, so it’s anyone’s guess as to which venue to hit the GPS for directions for this one as well.
“(The GHSA) has given us no indication as of yet,” Mongero said on Thursday. “Logistically it’s going to be tough no matter where it is but that’s a good problem to have because it means you’re in the finals. I guess I’d prefer to go to Rome because it’s closer to us but it doesn’t really matter.”
AccessWDUN will report on any venue decisions once they become available.