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Sunday May 16th, 2021 8:43PM

Baseball: Region races head to the home stretch

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

The 2021 high school baseball season enters its final fortnight with nearly a dozen northeast Georgia area teams looking to drive home berths in the upcoming state playoffs.

Several key series this week will decide not only playoff berths but region titles.

One of the biggest series in the state will have Class 6A No. 1 Buford opening a three-game series against No. 3 Winder-Barrow on the road on Monday. The Wolves (25-0, 15-0 Region 8-6A) have dominated region play thus far allowing just three runs. The Bulldoggs (19-2, 12-0 Region 8-6A) are not far behind giving up just 17 runs in region play. Buford can clinch with a series win while the Bulldoggs can clinch the top spot with a sweep and one more win next week.

Also in Region 8-6A, Habersham Central (7-17, 5-7 Region 8-6A) sits in fourth place and opens a huge series in Mt. Airy against Shiloh (9-12, 3-9 Region 8-6A). The Raiders can solidify their position with a series win while third-place Lanier (8-15, 6-6 Region 8-6A) and fifth-place Dacula (8-13, 4-8 Region 8-6A) open a series in Dacula.

The region champ in Region 8-2A will be decided this week when Class 2A No. 8 Banks County (17-6, 9-0 Region 8-2A) opens a series in Homer against No. 6 Elbert County (20-5, 8-1 Region 8-4A) with the series winner taking the region title. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Friday in Elberton.

Fresh off of No. 6 Jefferson's (18-7, 12-3 Region 8-4A) series win over now-No. 7 North Oconee (19-4, 10-2 Region 8-4A), Region 8-4A is very much in play for the top four slots. The Dragons are off from region play this week but third-place Flowery Branch (17-6, 8-4 Region 8-4A) plays host to fourth-place Madison County (9-15, 7-5 Region 8-4A) on Monday to open a key series, Fifth-place Chestatee (13-11, 5-7 Region 8-4A) opens a series against last place Cedar Shoals  (2-21, 0-14 Region 8-4A) with a chance to climb into the four spot with a sweep and some help from the Falcons.

Region 7-3A is much like 8-4A heading into the final two weeks in that five teams are still alive for playoff berths. All five have at least one series remaining with one of the top five teams, with No. 2-ranked North Hall (17-4, 11-1 Region 7-3A) having two series left against teams in the top four. The Trojans open a three-game series with fifth-place Dawson County (10-11, 4-8 Region 7-3A) with the Tigers needing a sweep to stay alive.

No. 10 Cherokee Bluff (15-8, 7-5 Region 7-3A) heads to Cleveland to open a series against White County (16-7, 11-4 Region 7-3A) looking to climb out of the fourth spot. The Warriors can clinch a top two spot with a series win. West Hall (16-7, 11-4 Region 7-3A) is tied with White County and is off this week before closing out its region schedule against the Trojans next week.

In Region 8-5A, Jackson County (15-9, 4-6 Region 8-5A) is clinging to the fifth spot and trails fourth-place Eastside (16-7, 6-6 Region 8-5A) by just two games. The two teams open a huge two-game series on Tuesday in Jefferson with the Panthers needing a sweep to stay alive.

(Check below for Monday and Tuesday's schedule.)

(Rankings taken from April 10 Georgia Dugout polls)


AREA BASEBALL SCHEDULE FOR Monday, April 12
(Games listed by visiting team in alphabetical order)
(Area teams highlighted in bold)
(Games begin at 5:55 p.m., unless otherwise noted)

Buford at Winder-Barrow*
Cherokee Bluff at White County*
Chestatee at Cedar Shoals*
Dawson County at North Hall*
Gilmer at Lumpkin County*
Lake Oconee at Commerce*
Madison County at Flowery Branch*
North Forsyth at Gainesville, 6:15 p.m.*
North Oconee at East Hall*
Shiloh at Habersham Central*
Towns County at Union County, 5:30 p.m.*


AREA BASEBALL SCHEDULE FOR Tuesday, April 13
Eastside at Jackson County*
Elbert County at Banks County*
Union County at Rabun County*

(* -- denotes region contest)

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