The HoCo Bears are coming off a massive series win over the Blessed Trinity Titans, a win that thrust Coach Hopkin’s team into the AAAAAA semifinals for the first time since 2021. After a short rest, the black and silver will turn the page, reset and prepare for Round 4. Next up for the Bears a best of three series with last year’s AAAAAAA runner up, the Etowah Eagles from Woodstock, Georgia.
Etowah is the 3 seed out of Region 6 coming into the series with a 26-12 record and is currently ranked #20 in the state of Georgia, currently riding a 9-game win streak. Don’t be fooled by the Eagles seeding or rankings. Etowah is a scrappy baseball team, one that is quite capable of winning it all in 2023.
Last season the Eagles were in Region 5-AAAAAAA and were also a 3 seed heading into the playoffs. However, the team made its way to the AAAAAAA state championship series where they were swept by cross-town rival Woodstock 5-0 and 4-0 to finish runner-up.
This season both Etowah and Woodstock moved down to AAAAAA and were together in Region 6. The Wolverines won the region title with a 13-5 region record but were ousted by defending AAAAAA state champion (and longtime HoCo nemesis) Pope in the sweet sixteen.
Etowah finished 11-7 in region play and were the 3 seed heading into the playoffs. Below are its current playoffs results….
Round One: @ Newnan W 10-1, W 10-1
Round Two: @ North Forsyth W 14-0, W 7-3
Round Three: vs Thomas Co Central W 7-2, W 3-1
The Eagles have scored 51 runs so far in the Playoffs… average of 8.5 rpg and have allowed 8 runs… average of 1.33 rapg. Run differential: +43 or +6.67 rpg.
HoCo’s current playoffs results:
Round One: vs Brunswick W 13-1, W 11-4
Round Two: vs Marist W 8-3, L 7-3, W 18-7
Round Three: vs Blessed Trinity L 5-3, W 4-2, W 6-1
The Bears have scored 65 runs… average of 8.125 rpg and have allowed 30 runs… average of 3.75 rapg. Run differential: +35 or +4.375 rpg. Both teams have scored 10 or more runs in three playoff games. HoCo is battle tested through the regular season and a through a tough playoff bracket, but, make no mistake, the team still must play its best to beat Etowah.
The Bears lead AAAAAA in runs scored with 323 in 38 games… an average of 8.5 rpg and have allowed 119 runs… an average of 3.13 rapg with a run differential of +204 or +5.37 rpg and are 32-6 overall.
The Eagles have scored 247 runs in 38 games… an average of 6.5 rpg and have allowed 110 runs… an average of 2.89 rapg with a run differential of +137 or +3.61 rpg and are again… 26-12 overall.
Two records could possibly be broken for HoCo, most wins in a single season and most runs scored in a single season. The Bears’ single season record for wins is 33 set in 2021 when it last won the state title. Two wins over Etowah. would break the single season wins record.
The single season runs scored record is 341 which was also set in 2021. HoCo needs only 19 runs to break this record.
Records broken or not, the Bears seem focused on a more prominent task at hand, win two and earn the opportunity to play for the school’s fourth state title.
The final four contest will be at The Garden tomorrow with doubleheader action. Game one is set to begin at 4:30pm and game two to follow 40 minutes after. The IF game is set for Saturday at 1pm.
Winner of this series will take on the winner of the Pope-River Ridge series in the AAAAAA final at Coolray Field (the home of Atlanta Braves AAA affiliate, the Gwinnett Stripers) on Thursday May 18th for the doubleheader and the IF game on Friday May 19th.
Two questions remain… 1. Who advances to the final? 2. Is it Friday yet?