It's one down and three to go for four Augusta-area baseball teams in the Georgia High School Association baseball playoffs.
Harlem, Evans, Greenbrier and Screven County each passed the first hurdle last week and will attempt to get into the state baseball semifinals with victories today and possibly Saturday. But the four teams will have to win without playing at the friendly confines of home.
Harlem is playing north of Columbus at Harris County, Evans goes to Lowndes, Greenbrier heads to McDonough to take on Henry County and Screven County visits Thomasville.
Class AA No. 1 Harlem (25-6) will make the four-hour trek to Hamilton to meet Harris County in their best-of-three series that begins with a 3:30 p.m., doubleheader. Game 3, if necessary, would be played on Saturday at 2 p.m.
"The teams we've got to play are some mighty good teams," said Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis. "This ain't no yellow brick road."
Because of the predetermined Class AA brackets, the Bulldogs played their first-round series at home, but their next two series will be on the road. If the Bulldogs reach the state final, it would be held in Harlem.
Harlem, with a victory over Harris, would advance into the Class AA semifinals where they'd travel to play the Gainesville-South Forsyth winner.
It's becoming a routine for Greenbrier in the second round of the state baseball playoffs to meet Henry County. The Wolfpack beat Henry County on their home field the last two seasons. This year, the series will be on the Class AAA No. 1 Warhawks' field.
Henry swept Shaw last Friday and has been anxiously awaiting Greenbrier.
"I was telling somebody that we had gotten reports that after they beat Shaw (Friday night), it came out in the newspaper the next day that Henry County was getting ready for Greenbrier and we hadn't even played our game (with Worth County) yet," said Greenbrier coach Terry Holder.
"That should tell everybody something and it should definitely tell our kids something. We know we have our hands full, but we're glad we're still in the game anyhow. At least we're in the second round of the state."
Today's doubleheader in McDonough is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. If a third game is needed, the contest would be played at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The winner will travel to meet the Ridgeland-Newton winner next weekend.
Evans (22-5-1) had little trouble with Fayette County last Saturday, pounding out 16 hits in the two games with two homers from Jamal Jones and a grand slam from Kenny Ludlow. In addition, Steve Dunham allowed just three hits in an 8-4 victory in the first game while senior Billy Thomas followed up the first game victory with an 8-4 win in the nightcap.
But the Knights must turn their game up a notch to have a chance against Region 1-AAAA champion Lowndes. As if making the 5 1/2 -hour drive to Valdosta isn't enough, Evans will have to contend with the Vikings pitching duo of right-hander Sammy Watson and left-hander Nick Dodson.
The best-of-three series begins at 5 p.m. today at Lowndes' Noel George Field. A third game, if necessary, would be played at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The winner will host the Lassiter-Chattahoochee in the Class AAAA semifinals.
Screven County travels to meet Thomasville today in a doubleheader that begins at 3 p.m. The third game would be played at noon on Saturday.
Tim Morse covers Georgia high school sports for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached At (706) 823-3216.
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