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Baseball: Previews of first-round state playoff matchups
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South Forsyth catcher Matty Bapst tags out Forsyth Central's Parker Jones at the plate Wednesday, March 21, 2018. - photo by Brian Paglia
Mountain View at Forsyth Central

When, where: Thursday, 4 p.m. in Suwanee; Friday if necessary.

Records and seedings: Central is 12-17 and the No. 2 seed from Region 5; Mountain View is 20-9 and the No. 3 seed from Region 6.

What to know: Central’s turnaround – a 2-10 start to the year followed by an 8-7 record in region play – is surely one of the greatest in county baseball history, but that’s all erased for the playoffs. The Bulldogs have been lackluster on offense all year, with their 62 runs scored in region play only besting last-place West, but their rotation trio of Ethan Hankins, Mitchell Gross and Jacob Ryan is one of the most fearsome in the state. Mountain View has the look of a strong, balanced opponent, and the Bears were the only school in Region 6 to beat No. 1 seed Mill Creek.

What’s next: The winner faces either Parkview or Rockdale County in the second round.

North Forsyth at Mill Creek

When, where: Thursday at 4 p.m. in Lawrenceville; Friday at 5 p.m. if necessary.

Records and seedings: North is 20-10 and the No. 4 seed from Region 5; Mill Creek is 26-4 and the No. 1 seed from Region 6.

What to know: The Raiders’ scorching run through non-region play turned out to not be entirely representative of their overall quality. North was at one point 3-5 in the region, very much in danger of missing the playoffs, before pulling off a solid 4-3 run to finish with a 7-8 record in Region 5-7A. A win over the Hawks would be a massive upset, as Mill Creek has won 22 of its last 23 games.

What’s next: The winner faces either Norcross or South Gwinnett in the second round.

Pinecrest Academy at Stratford Academy

When, where: Thursday in Macon; Friday if necessary.

Records and seedings: Pinecrest is 17-12 and the No. 21 seed in Class 1A-Private; Stratford is 19-8 and the No. 12 seed in Class 1A-Private.

What to know: Some early-season faultiness prevented Pinecrest from getting a high enough seed to host, but the Paladins have been mighty hot heading into the playoffs, winning their last five games and averaging nine runs per. Will Patota has kept mashing – his average currently sits at .444, and he has 10 home runs – and Ben Gobbel, Brooks Binkley and Micky Mangan have been productive senior counterparts in the order.

What's next: The winner faces Hebron Christian in the second round.

Peachtree Ridge at South Forsyth

When, where: Thursday, 4:30 p.m. in Cumming; Friday if necessary.

Records and seedings: South Forsyth is 24-6 and the No. 1 seed from Region 5; Peachtree Ridge is 21-9 and the No. 4 seed from Region 6.

What to know: The War Eagles lifted a weight off the collective shoulders of the program by qualifying for the state playoffs this year, and their 14-1 record in region play was downright remarkable. Those good vibes could be erased utterly with an early playoff exit, though, and Peachtree Ridge doesn’t look like a cupcake. The Lions saw excellent competition from the top half of the region schedule all year long, and while those games didn’t go in their favor, they have a group of solid victories against non-region opponents like Grayson and Winder-Barrow.

What’s next: The winner faces either Archer or Brookwood in the second round.