October 31, 2020

Braves sweep Warriors to open state playoffs

The Braves congratulate senior Bryan Jones at the plate following his game two Grand Slam Friday in Franklin (Photo: Gary Jones)

(Franklin, GA) — The Heard County Braves powered past an over-matched young KIPP Atlanta squad Friday at Alford Field to earn a Sweet 16 road trip to far north Georgia for round two.

The Braves swept the state playoff opening doubleheader by finals scores of 26-5 and 18-0 in games shortened to just three innings.

The KIPP roster included only one upperclassman was no match for the Braves but the Warriors finished the season with the first six wins in program history after being winless from 2015-2017.

The Braves (15-14) will face a much more difficult opponent in the Sweet 16 as they will travel to Trenton, GA this Thursday to face the Dade County Wolverines. The top seeded Region 7-AA Wolverines (20-6) swept Oglethorpe County Friday in round one.

Tray Owens pitched one shut out inning in game one striking out the side before handing the ball over to freshman Drew Cornelius to finish out the game after the Braves scored 23 in the bottom of the first.

Leading the way offensively was another freshman Leroy Marsh who drove in six runs on a pair of doubles. Jake Harrod also added two hits for the offense in the rout.

It was more of the same in game two with Dale Thornhill pitching a scoreless first inning and striking out two before handing it over to senior first baseman Davey Raines. Raines struck out all six batters that he retired in two innings of work.

The offensive highlight of the game came on a grand slam by senior Bryan Jones. Jones finished with six RBI’s on the day to extend his team high season total to 34. The HR was his fourth of the year.

Caden Raines and Dale Thornhill added three hits each to go along with three RBI’s apiece.

“To our guys’ credit I think we had 11 runs early in game one with only two hits which is a credit to our guys for not chasing any balls out of the zone we talk about winning each inning and that’s what we did today,” said Bianco after the game.

The coach says whether facing an over-matched opponent or a region champion, the goal is the same — to advance farther in the playoffs.

“Overall, it doesn’t matter how you do it — we are going to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight year and that’s a big deal for us. We’re thankful to have another week and we’re just ready to try and get back to the Elite 8.”

The Braves will travel to Dade County Thursday for a doubleheader to open the best-of-three series with a “if” game Friday if necessary. The winner would meet either Dodge County or Berrien in the Elite 8.

Region 5-AA swept the much weaker Region 6-AA in the first round with Callaway, Jordan, and Lamar County also advancing easily.

Other Class AA squads advancing to the Sweet 16 in round one were Elbert County, Jeff Davis, Westside (Augusta), Screven County, Benedictine, Thomasville, and Rabun County.

Harlem and Bleckley County split and still need a game three to determine who advances.

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