vs. Stephens County
When: Game 1 3:30 p.m. today, Game 2 to follow; If necessary, Game 3 5:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Flowery Branch
Coaches: Flowery Branch, Jimmy Lawler. Stephens County, Mark Gosnell.
Records: Flowery Branch (26-3, No. 1 Region 7-AAA); Stephens County (22-6, No. 2 Region 8-AAA)
First round: Flowery Branch def. Riverwood (15-0, 4-9, 7-6); Stephens County def. Sandy Creek (8-1, 7-11, 9-6)
Key players: Flowery Branch, P/SS Patrick Henry Sr. (10-1, .581 avg., 10 HR, 50 RBI); SS/2B Danny Price Sr. (.492 avg, 19 RBIs); C Bucky Free Jr. Stephens County, P/3B Ethan Martin Sr. (7-0, 1.36 ERA, .528 avg., 12 HR, 1.153 slg.), SS/P Cody Martin Jr. (1.42 ERA), 2B Dalton Loudermilk (.361 avg., 23 runs scored).
Outlook: The top-ranked Falcons will face their most difficult test of the year against Stephens County and its highly-touted prospect Ethan Martin. Martin, a Clemson signee, is projected as a first-round draft pick in this year’s upcoming Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
"(Martin) throws the ball harder then anyone we’ve seen all year," Falcons coach Jimmy Lawler said. "He’s one of the best players in the country."
Martin and his 90-plus mph fastball will take the hill opposite Falcons ace Patrick Henry in Game 1 of the series.
"Pat’s had a good year and when we put him on the mound we have confidence that we’ll have a good chance at winning," Lawler said.
Henry will have to limit the 6-foot-3, 200 pound Martin, who leads the Indians offense with 12 home runs and a 1.153 slugging percentage. "They are certainly not one dimensional," Lawler said of Stephens County’s offense. "They will put the ball in play and they also have some guys that can knock it out of the park."
In order to combat the offense of Stephens County, Lawler said his team will need to continue to get timely hits with runners on base.
That, and limiting Martin’s output at the plate and effectiveness on the mound are certainly the keys for the Falcons if they wish to advance to the next round.