Archive for May, 2013

50 in 50: McEachern

Kyle Hockman has returned McEachern to its place among the top teams in Cobb County during his five seasons in Powder Springs.

After finishing 5-5 in his first year, the Indians have made four consecutive playoff appearances, won three region championships and posted a combined record of 38-8. McEachern also had 10-win seasons in 2009, 2010 and 2011 after not winning more than nine games in any year since 1999.

“I think we’re getting to where we want to be,” Hockman said. “Our numbers are high, and we’ve got a lot of good players and good coaches. We’re working very hard in the weight room and in the classroom. Obviously it’s always an ongoing process as you lose graduates and things like that. But our youth programs are working hard and doing things right.

“So we’re excited about the direction of it. We’re looking to get into that exclusive company of talking about state championships on a consistent basis, to be in that hunt. We’ve just got to do a …

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Class AAAA baseball: Redan sweeps Marist

He wasn’t at his customary spot in the dugout, but there was no question that the Redan baseball team had coach Marvin Pruitt on their mind as they celebrated winning the Class AAAA championship.

The veteran coach had to step back from the day-to-day operation of the club since health problems early in the year. But when the players received the championship trophy, it went straight to Pruitt, who smiled as the crowded chanted his name.

“This is something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time,” said Pruitt, DeKalb County’s first 400-game winning coach.

Redan (30-7) knocked off nemesis Marist (27-9), winning the first game 11-0 and taking the second 4-3 at Marist’s Jerry Queen Field. It was the first title for a DeKalb County public school since Dunwoody in 2007. It was the third time Redan had reached the final.

“This means a lot,” said Redan shortstop Wesley Jones, a Georgia signee. “To have the experience to get one … it’s hard to describe.”

The two …

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Class AA baseball finals: Lovett rallies for title

Two outs from elimination, Lovett rallied to beat Westminster 4-3 in eight innings in Game 2 of the Class AA state championship series Monday to force a third game, which the Lions won 5-2 behind a pitching gem from junior left-hander Mitch Stallings for their seventh state title in baseball.

The Lions (29-10) scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 2 of and plated the game-winner in the eighth to beat Westminster 4-3 and force a deciding Game 3.

In Game 3, the Lions scored three times in the first inning and once in the second, and Stallings made it stand up.

Stallings, who pitched well enough to win in a 2-1 Game 1 loss, was brilliant on two days rest in Game 3, striking out eight while allowing five hits.

Brant Wells’ two-run double highlighted the three-run first for Lovett, and Aaron Schunck’s RBI single in the second made it 4-0.

Lovett scored its final run on a bases-loaded walk to Tyler Shiflett in the seventh.

The Game 2 win was the first for …

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AAAAAA state baseball championship: Milton tops Roswell in thriller

By David Purdum / For the AJC

Alex Schnell pitched a gem, and nine-hole hitter Dalon Farkas delivered a two-out, game-winning RBI in extra innings, lifting Milton to a 2-1 victory over Roswell in the AAAAAA state championship on Monday.

It’s the third state championship for the Eagles in baseball and their first since 2004. But it was anything but easy.

The two Fulton County rivals battled in front of raucous, overflow crowds for three games at the Eagles’ new field. Fans sat on top of the outfield fences. Some even climbed trees, trying to catch a peek of a well-played, thrilling series. The two teams split two games on Saturday, setting up a Memorial Day showdown that featured plenty of drama.

With two outs in the eighth, catcher Nick Bradshaw doubled to right-center. Bradshaw had committed a throwing error in the fourth that allowed Drew Davis to score Roswell’s only run. Bradshaw redeemed himself with the eighth-inning double and landed on second base with a …

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50 in 50: Lowndes

Lowndes was 9-0 and ranked No. 4 around Halloween of last year. The 0-2 finish – home losses to Camden County (24-7) and Marietta (30-27) – called into question what kind of team the Vikings really had after such a promising start.

Was it a state contender that slipped up, or a young team that just wasn’t ready?  Or maybe some of both?

“To make a deep run, a bunch of things have to go your way,’’ said Lowndes’ Randy McPherson, a coach with five state titles. ‘’We had a young team. We’ve got a bunch coming back.’’

What McPherson wouldn’t blame it on was injuries. Limping down the stretch were leading rusher Nick Burgman and all-state defensive back Tijuan Lang, perhaps the team’s best two players.

That’s over now, though, and Lowndes has 13 of 22 starters back, plus some talent uploaded from a JV team that went undefeated. The team is best fortified on defense and the offensive line, which are the main priorities for an old-school coach such as …

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Baseball: Tradition-rich Redan seeks first state title

Marist and Redan will attempt to build onto their baseball traditions Monday as the high school season of sports nears its final out.

Championship series in classes AAAAAA (Milton-Roswell) and AA (Westminster-Lovett) resume while Redan travels to Marist for Game 1 of their three-game series in AAAA.

Marist defeated Redan in three of four meetings in the regular season and won the team’s region. Marist also is favored because of its history of 12 state championships.

Redan’s tradition is lesser known if only because this is the Stone Mountain school’s first state final appearance.

Three Redan graduates are in the major leagues in Domonic Brown (Phillies left fielder), Chris Nelson (Dodgers third baseman) and Brandon Phillips (Reds second baseman). Retired all-star Wally Joyner also is a Redan alumnus.

Brown and Nelson played for current Redan coach Marvin Pruitt, the first 400-game winner in DeKalb County history. Redan’s leading hitter is Chris Nelson’s nephew, sophomore …

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AAAAAA baseball championship: Roswell, Milton headed for decisive Game 3

By David Purdum / For the AJC

Memorial Day baseball will decide the AAAAAA state championship.
In a battle of Fulton County rivals, Roswell took Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader, 1-0, behind a dominating outing by starter Connor Johnstone.
Milton rebounded in Game 2, getting clutch two-out RBI singles from Dalon Farkas and Nick Bradshaw and a strong outing from starter Dylan Cease in a 5-3 win.
The decisive Game 3 will be played Monday at Milton. The Hornets will be looking first their first state title in baseball since 1986. The Eagles last won a state title in 2004.
Johnstone threw a complete-game two-hit shutout in the first game. Johnstone, a Wake Forest commitment, struck out five with no walks. He retired 13 straight during one stretch and ended the game by snatching a liner from Alec Cease and doubling off Dalton Ewing at first.
Alex Dickerson’s RBI single scored Drew Davis in the first inning for the game’s only run.
An overflow crowd created a raucous …

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Class AAA baseball finals: Cartersville sweeps North Hall

By Stephen Black

Score Atlanta

Cartersville traveled to North Hall’s Jody Davis Field and swept the host Trojans 4-2 and 2-1 to win the Class AAA state championship Saturday.

Cartersville’s Tripp Jamieson singled in Evan Cole in the bottom of the seventh break a 1-1 tie and give the Purple Hurricanes a walk-off win to clinch the championship in Game 2.

Game 2 was a pitchers’ duel as North Hall’s Colton Duttweiler and Cartersville’s Garrett Rutledge each pitched into the seventh. The teams combined for four hits.

North Hall opened the scoring in the fourth when Griffin Olson doubled in Andrew Smith. But Cartersville drew even in the bottom of the fifth when Jamieson hit a sacrifice fly, allowing Hayes Linn to score.

In Game 1, the Purple Hurricanes led 3-0 in the third after RBI doubles from Ty Fowler and Beau Benefield, then an RBI single from Connor Justus. Drew Lawson singled in Jamieson in the fifth to give Cartersville a 4-1 lead.

North Hall scored on a sacrifice …

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Class AAAAA Baseball Finals: Pope sweeps Greenbrier, 11-7 in eight innings and 15-5 in five innings

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Propelled by two huge innings, Pope swept the Class AAAAA Finals from Greenbrier, winning Game 1, 11-7 in eight innings, and Game 2, 15-5 in five innings. It gave the Greyhounds their second state title in four years (2009).

Game 1 had one of the most bizarre finishes imaginable for any ball game, let alone a state final.

Trailing 5-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Pope scored three runs to tie the game. The final two runs were plated on a two-out single to center by junior Patrick Wiseman that was misplayed into a double by the Greenbrier centerfielder.

But the Wolfpack retook the lead in the top of the eighth. Two walks and a single by senior Steven Maier loaded the bases, and after freshman Ty Snipes was fanned by Pope freshman hurler Cameron Allison, senior Clint Hardy’s sharp grounder ate up Greyhound shortstop Johnny Flading, which allowed Chris Michaels to score.

Greenbrier added what seemed like a key insurance run one …

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Class AA baseball championship: Westminster 2, Lovett 1

A year ago, Hays Meyer was a fourth outfielder and a spot pitcher for Westminster. Saturday, he pitched the Wildcats to within a game of their first state championship since 1975.

Meyer, who tossed a no-hitter in his last start against Pepperell, wiggled out of jams in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, beating Lovett 2-1 in the first game of the Class AA state championship series.

Game 2 is scheduled for Monday at 3:30 p.m.

Meyer (11-2) allowed six hits while striking out four, outdueling Lovett left-hander Mitch Stallings.

“I didn’t have all my pitches like I did against Pepperell, but it was pretty close,” Meyer said. “It was a tight zone today and that was really a good thing. It made the game move quicker. I had to rely on my fastball a lot and just throw my curveball for strikes. It was a lot of fun.”

Stallings struck out five and allowed six hits while walking three.

In a game that featured no extra-base hits, the two Atlanta private schools went scoreless …

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Baseball team chases Westminster’s 10th spring state title

Westminster hasn’t won a state championship in baseball since 1975. So you wouldn’t think there would be much pressure on coach Russell Wrenn, in his second season as Westminster’s head coach.

But this is Westminster, where the Wildcats’ sports teams have won nine of a possible 10 state championships this spring. Westminster has won some 200 state championships, more than any other Georgia school, but never had a season like this.

In fact, no school had won more the five state titles in one spring until this year.

‘’The golf coach and I were having lunch the other day; everybody else had finished, and they were playing Monday and we were in the semifinals,’’ Wrenn said. “I said, ‘I guess if we want to be back next year, we need to win it.’ The standard has been set.’’

The Class AA baseball series, which begins Saturday with a double-header that starts at 6 p.m. at Westminster, is interesting on several fronts.

Westminster has dominated spring sports, …

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Baseball state finals: Local rivalries come to life

Local rivalries will play out on a big stage Saturday when the high school baseball championship series get underway.

Three of the five best-of-three state final series match teams from the same region if not neighborhood. They are Milton vs. Roswell (north Fulton) in AAAAAA, Marist vs. Redan (DeKalb) in AAAA and Westminster and Lovett (Buckhead) in AA.

‘’There’s a lot of buzz on both sides,’’ Milton coach Joey Ray said of the Milton-Roswell series. “A lot of people who don’t necessarily follow high school sports, they ask who are you playing, and when you say Roswell, they immediately go, ‘Ooh!’ They get excited. We’ll get a hefty turnout of students, alumni and honestly just neighborhood folks who want to be a part of it.’’

Here is a look at the five remaining state championship series. Eagle’s Landing and Charlton County won Class A championships earlier this month.

AAAAAA – Milton and Roswell are the oldest schools in north Fulton County and …

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50-in-50: Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

ELCA Nation, your wait is over.

AJC.com’s “50-in-50” series brings you … the Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy Chargers.

Fans and supporters of the McDonough private school have wondered out loud for weeks about when ELCA would be profiled in the daily feature that has turned into a must-read for high school football fans.

Since joining the Georgia High Schools Association in 2004, ELCA has become one of the most successful programs in the state. Over the past five seasons, the Chargers are 55-10, and after a number of deep playoff runs without a championship, ELCA won its first last season in dominating fashion – 33-0 over Prince Avenue Christian.

Even though the title was won during the first season in which public schools and private schools in Georgia’s smallest classification competed for separate championships (Emanuel County Institute won the public school side), ELCA head coach Jonathan Gess said the victory was still sweet …

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10 best HS defensive linemen: Norcross DE rated No. 1 in nation

Defensive line might be Georgia’s best position this coming high school season.

To continue our look at the state’s best players, here are 10 to watch on the defensive line. Although this is not based on their college potential, these 10 are major college prospects. How valuable are these guys in high school? Three played on state championship teams in 2012.

That includes Lorenzo Carter of Norcross, the top-rated defensive end in the country.

- Mekhi Brown, Carver-Columbus: A rising junior, Brown is committed to Alabama. He had six sacks and seven other tackles for losses. Teams began to run away from his side and leave a tight end and running back to block him on passing situations last season. Brown is 6-6, 230.

- Lorenzo Carter, Norcross: A first-team all-state player in 2012, Carter led Gwinnett County in sacks with 18 and made 136 tackles for the Class AAAAAA championship team. Rivals rates Carter (6-5, 235) as the No. 1 weakside defensive end and No. 5 overall player …

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Jeff Haws’ Top 10 List

It all comes down to this, doesn’t it? The buzz is building here at The List HQ, as the other sports clear the deck so baseball can close things out.

Seems fitting enough that the national pastime gets the final stage, so here we go. One final set of finals, and we can’t wait to have that bat ping ringing in our ears (It really does haunt our dreams – but in a good way, we think).

Of course, some of you have probably been distracted by hiking in a park or spring cleaning or doing other silly things that don’t involve watching high school sports, and you may not be familiar with the teams that are left.

That’s where we come in. Because we’re helpful people, here’s one player who’s worth watching from each team in this weekend’s finals.

10. Hays Meyer, Westminster P (Sr.)

Westminster’s ace all season (8-2, 1.45 ERA), Meyer has solidified that role in the playoffs. He won the opening games against Rabun County, Toombs County and Pepperell, allowing just eight …

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