As the GHSA is looking to crown its baseball champions, today marks the start of the penultimate round before the trophies are hoisted by the state’s best squads.
The Gainesville Red Elephants and the Buford Wolves are still standing after surviving each of the previous three rounds of a best-of-three format tournament.
Here’s what you should know before you head out to the ballpark in support of your favorite team this afternoon:
Class AAAAA: No. 1 Gainesville vs. No. 7 Houston County
When: 4 p.m. today
Where: Ivey-Watson Field, Gainesville
Tickets: $10, per GHSA
The state’s Class AAAAA top-ranked Red Elephants (28-5) won a coin flip on May 11, after beating Dalton in a series-deciding Game 3, to host the semifinal series against the No. 7 Bears (26-7).
The two met in the 2014 playoffs, with Houston County topping Gainesville in three games on its way to their first state championship. The Red Elephants are looking for their eighth state title in program history and are coming off a state runner-up season.
Gainesville came into the playoffs this year as the No. 1 seed from Region 8, while the Bears were the top team in Region 2.
The Red Elephants won the opening doubleheader against Alexander in the first round and against LaGrange in the second round.
Dalton pushed Gainesville to a third game, with the Red Elephants prevailing in a 12-8 contest.
Houston County also opened with a doubleheader sweep, both one-run wins over Statesboro. In the second round, Cambridge took the Bears to three games, with Houston County coming back from a Game 1 loss to take the series and advance.
In the third round, Houston County came back in both contests to sweep Columbus in first two games of the series to move on.
Gainesville has outscored is opponents 44-30 through the first seven games. The Bears have topped opponents 33-19 thus far in the playoffs.
This season the Red Elephants are 13-1 at home, while Houston County has a 7-3 away record.
Class AAAA: No. 1 Buford vs. Eastside
When: 4:30 p.m. today
Where: Gerald McQuaig Field, Buford
Tickets: $10, per GHSA
The No. 1 Wolves (29-3) will play host to a Cinderella of sorts in the Eastside Eagles (23-9).
Eastside is a third-seeded squad out of Region 4, who hadn’t made it past the first round since the 2011 season.
The Eagles came back from a one-game deficit in the first round this year to top Cairo, then swept Madison County in a doubleheader.
Eastside, which is looking for its first state championship, knocked off St. Pius X in a three-game series to move on to today’s semifinals.
The Wolves, who have had no issue putting up runs this season, have swept their way into the semifinals. Buford topped Bainbridge 15-0 and 16-2 in the second round and has scored a total of 61 runs through six games in the playoffs.
Buford is looking to win its fourth state title, which would include winning in 2011 and 2015.
The Wolves and Eagles have three common opponents from this year’s regular season schedule.
The Wolves defeated North Oconee twice by a combined score of 28-1. The Eagles fell 2-0 to the Titans.
Eastside was swept in a two-game series 11-1 and 4-1 by Locust Grove, who knocked off the Wolves 3-0 in their only meeting.
Buford split two games with Madison County, winning 10-2 and losing 9-8. Eastside won both 4-2 and 4-3.
The Wolves have put up a 13-1 home record this season, while Eastside has lost six of its 15 games away from Covington.