The Commerce baseball team already has had a historic season.
The last time Commerce (21-11) advanced this far in the playoffs was in 2015 when it was only a 16-team field. They won one series as a No. 14 seed before being bounced out by Atkinson County the following round that year.
This time around, the Tigers made history by winning two series in the same playoff season for the first time since 1996. The No. 9-seeded Tigers pummeled Crawford County in the first round scoring 31 runs in a two-game sweep and then backed that up with a three-game series win over No. 8 seed Pelham behind a stellar pitching performance that saw them yield just five total runs.
The Tigers now will look to keep it going when they open a Class A Public best-of-three series on the road against traditional power, and No. 1 overall seed Schley County, on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. The two teams will open with a doubleheader on Wednesday, with a 4 p.m. first pitch set for Game 1. A Game 3, if necessary, will at 3 p.m. on Thursday.
Longtime coach Steve Cotrell, now in his 11th season, said it has been a total team effort to this point.
“Our pitching has been consistent and kept us in ball games. They have given our offense time to find their way in most games,” Cotrell said. “Nate Ray, Tucker Maloch, Colby Rogers, along with Landon Davis (1 inning relief) only gave up two earned runs in the entire Pelham series. My hat is off to those four guys.
“Offensively, what has been fun to watch, is that it has been someone different day in and day out. Our guys just compete and play hard to the last pitch.”
Schley County (24-3) has the highest winning percentage (.889) of any Class A team, Public or Private, still remaining in the playoffs. Only No. 2 seed and defending state champion Gordon Central (26-4) has more wins. The Wildcats won titles in 2015 and 2017.
Cotrell knows it will take another total team effort if they are match their best-ever playoff run.
“It will be a tough environment and coach (Chuck) Cheek does a tremendous job with getting his guys ready to play,” he said. “They are used to winning and find ways to win. It will be a tough task but our guys have been in some dog fights throughout the year and I think we will be ready for the challenge.
“We will have to make some plays and throw strikes. Our region prepares us for the tough challenges. It should be fun and exciting.”
NOTES: The Tigers have proven to be a tough road team winning 11 of 17 times away from home. ... Schley County, however, is 16-1 at home this season. ... The Wildcats lost in the quarterfinals at home in 2018. ... Commerce (251) has scored the second-most runs of any team left in the Class A Public playoffs (7.84 rpg) while the Wildcats have allowed just 59 runs all season (2.18 rpg) ... Schley County is averaging 8.51 rpg on offense while Commerce has allowed 140 runs (4.37 rpg) on the season.