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Saturday August 13th, 2022 5:34AM

Playoff baseball: 6 NEGa area teams looking for Elite 8 berths

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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GAINESVILLE — Only six of the 13 Northeast Georgia area teams to make the 2022 baseball playoffs advanced past the first round last week.

But all six -- Buford in Class 6A, Flowery Branch in 4A, North Hall and Cherokee Bluff in 3A, Banks County in 2A, and Commerce in Class A Public -- were either region champs or runners-up. And all six swept their first-round series at home.

Buford, North Hall, and Commerce will once again play host to second-round series while Branch, Bluff, and Banks County all will hit the road for the first time in the playoffs. Three of the matchups will involve both teams being ranked in the top 10 at the end of the regular season. All six are expected to be compelling matchups.

In Class 6A, Buford, ranked second on the Region 8-6A champion, takes on a Glynn Academy team that has the same number of wins (24) as the Wolves. Buford is 9-2 at Gerald McQuaig Field while the Terrors are 9-4 on the road. The Wolves were stunned in the second round in 2021 while ranked No.1 so they are looking to erase that memory this time around.

In Class 4A, Flowery Branch, ranked 10th, heads to No. 6 LaGrange. The Grangers are tied for the second-most wins in the classification (25) and are 15-5 at home in 2022. The Falcons, the No. 2 seed from Region 8-4A, have been hot down the stretch winning 11 of their last 13 games overall but are just 6-7 on the road in 2022.

In Class 3A, another battle between ranked teams will have No. 10 Cherokee Bluff traveling to No. 2 Pierce County. Pierce County (25-2) has the best overall winning percentage in Class 3A (.926) and is a stout 16-1 at home so far this season. Their only home loss was to Long County, one of three Region 1-3A teams to advance to the Sweet 16. Bluff, the Region 7-3A runner-up, however, is 11-4 on the road.

Top-ranked North Hall plays host to unranked Appling County, another of the Region 1 teams to advance. Both have had tremendous success of late. The Trojans are the Region 7-3A champs and defending state champions while the Pirates made the semifinals in 2021. And, they are no strangers to each other. North Hall swept a two-game series over the Pirates in Baxley in 2019 in the quarterfinals.

In Class 2A, Banks County, the Region 8-2A runner-up, heads down to No. 8 Vidalia. The Indians have the longest current win streak in Class 2A at 18 straight. The Leopards are just 6-7 on the road in 2022.

In Class A-Public, Commerce, the Region 8-A champ and ranked seventh, plays host to No. 4 Irwin County, who leads Class A in wins (28). The Indians are a tough road team going 12-2 away from Ocilla. The Tigers have been hot lately winning 8 of their last 10 overall and are 13-3 at home in 2022.

(Check below for the full second-round schedule involving Northeast Georgia-area teams.)


2nd ROUND BASEBALL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
(All series are best-of-3 at home of higher seed)
(Game 3s start at 5:55 p.m. unless otherwise noted)
TUESDAY, MAY 3

Class 6A
Glynn Academy (Region 2, Seed 2) at Buford (R8, S1) (DH), 4:30 p.m.

Class 4A
Flowery Branch (R8, S2) at LaGrange (R2, S1) (DH), 4:30 p.m.


WEDNESDAY, MAY 4

Class 6A
Glynn Academy (Region 2, Seed 2) at Buford (R8, S1) (Game 3, if necessary), 6 p.m.

Class 4A
Flowery Branch (R8, S2) at LaGrange (R2, S1) (Game 3, if necessary), 5:30 p.m.

Class 3A
Appling County (R1, S2) at North Hall (R7, S1) (DH), 4:30 p.m.
Cherokee Bluff (R7, S2) at Pierce County (R1, S1) (DH), 4:30 p.m.

Class 2A
Banks County (R8, S2) at Vidalia (R2, S1), (DH), 4 p.m.

Class A Public
Irwin County (R2, S2) at Commerce (R8, S1) (DH), 4 p.m.


THURSDAY, MAY 5

Class 3A
Appling County (R1, S2) at North Hall (R7, S1) (Game 3, if necessary), 4 p.m.
Cherokee Bluff (R7, S2) at Pierce County (R1, S1) (Game 3, if necessary), 4 p.m.

Class 2A
Banks County (R8, S2) at Vidalia (R2, S1), (Game 3, if necessary), 4 p.m.

Class A Public
Irwin County (R2, S2) at Commerce (R8, S1) (Game 3, if necessary), 2 p.m.

(Area teams listed in BOLD)

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