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Monday February 24th, 2020 4:02AM

Baseball: Region title races set up for exciting finishes as final week approaches

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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With just eight days left in the regular season for high school baseball, there are no shortage of exciting region races left to be decided for northeast Georgia teams.

No region titles in northeast Georgia have been officially decided heading into Friday's action, which has the conclusion of some huge series. But several regions could crown champions Friday.

Below is a synopsis of each northeast Georgia region as they enter Friday's action:

In Region 8-AAAAAA, Winder-Barrow reduced its magic number to clinch the region title to 1 and takes on Apalachee, which has lost six straight, on Friday. Meanwhile, Gainesville has opened a two-game lead for second place on Dacula and the two conclude their series on Friday. A Red Elephants win will clinch second place. Lanier has climbed into a tie for fourth place with Habersham after winning the first two games of their three-game series, which also concludes on Friday.

In Region 8-AAAAA, Buford suffered its first region loss on Wednesday at a most inopportune time. The Wolves will open their biggest series of the season against first place Loganville at home on Friday. They need to sweep both games to reclaim first place and probably need to sweep their final four games to take the title. The Red Devils will take the region title with a sweep. Flowery Branch can clinch a playoff berth with a win over Clarke Central on Monday and can still finish third if it wins out and gets a Buford sweep of Walnut Grove next week.

In Region 7-AAAA, Blessed Trinity and Marist already have clinched the top two spots. The real battle is for the final two spots, and West Hall, Chestatee, and White County are all still alive. Chestatee and White County finish their three-game series Friday in Cleveland. The Warriors took the first game on Tuesday. The War Eagles need two wins to qualify for their first-ever playoff berth in program history. West Hall finishes against Blessed Trinity while West Hall takes on Marist next week. 

In Region 8-AAAA, with one week and four games left, nothing has been settled. All six teams are still alive for a playoff berth with three teams still alive to capture the region title. Nothing will be decided until the final game of the season next week. Madison County and Oconee County conclude their three-game series on Friday tied atop the standings. Jefferson and Madison County close out the regular season next week with the Dragons clinging to third place. Their loss to St. Pius on Thursday knocked them out of the region title race but they are still mathematically alive for second if they can sweep the Red Raiders and get two losses from Oconee County, which plays arch-rival North Oconee next week.

There have been several twists and turns over the last two weeks in Region 7-AAA. North Hall entered last week as the No. 1 team in Class AAA but has suffered three straight losses and needs a win over Greater Atlanta Christian on Friday to keep its region title hopes alive. A GAC win would give the Spartans a sweep of the Trojans and capture the region crown. However, Dawson County is tied with North Hall for second and a Trojans win over the Spartans could set up a showdown next week between the Tigers and Trojans for the region title. But, they would need a pair of GAC losses to Lumpkin County next week. Fannin County has clinched the fourth spot.

In Region 8-AAA, Jackson County got a huge win over Hart County to take a two-game lead over Monroe Area for fourth place and will close out its region schedule in a doubleheader against the Bulldogs on Friday. One win would clinch a playoff spot. Morgan County needs one win over last place East Jackson to clinch the region title.

In Region 8-AA, region play concludes on Friday with only the top two spots up for grabs. Banks County and Rabun County have both clinched playoff spots with the Leopards locked in at third and the Wildcats in fourth place. Elbert County can clinch the title with a pair of wins over last place Putnam County. Second place Social Circle needs a sweep over Rabun County and a pair of Elbert County losses on Friday to capture the title.

In Region 8-A, eight teams are alive for playoff positioning as the final week nears. Class A uses the power ratings system to determine the 24-team field in both Public and Private. Area teams Commerce (16th) and Towns County (21st) are among the top 24 in the Class A Public power ratings. Six private teams in 8-A -- none in the area -- are among the top 21 in the Class A Private power ratings.

AccessWDUN will publish updated region standings on Monday as we have throughout the season.

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