Hebron Christian at Lakeview Academy, 4:30 p.m.
White County at East Hall, 5:30 p.m.
West Hall at Johnson, 5:30 p.m.
Lumpkin County at North Hall, 5:30 p.m.
Gilmer at Chestatee, 5:30 p.m.
Athens Academy at Commerce, 5:30 p.m.
Creekview at Gainesville, 5:55 p.m.
Today’s regular season finale for Lakeview Academy (22-1, 15-0) is simply a formality with the Region 8-A and home field advantage to open the Class A state playoffs already locked up. The only motivating factor for the Lions today against Hebron Christian (19-3, 12-3) is to round out the regular season with an undefeated region mark heading into next Friday’s opening round of the postseason.
Lions No. 1 starter Ralston Cash and No. 2 Tyler Ward have the luxury of being able to split time on the mound with seven days before the playoffs start.
For that reason, the final day of the regular season has a much different feel than five years ago when the Lions needed help to capture the 8-A title.
"It feels good to play the final game of the regular season without any pressure," Lakeview coach Deuce Roark said. "It’s given us the ability to work on the little things like offensive plays we may use and also get our pitching staff in order."
In 2004, the eventual state champions from Lakeview Academy still needed help on the final day of the regular season to win the school’s first region baseball title. The Lions needed a win against Jefferson on the final day of the regular season, combined with an Athens Academy loss to Prince Avenue.
Lakeview Academy took care of what it could control with a come-from-behind 7-6 win on the final day of the regular season. Then three days later, Prince Avenue picked up the win against Athens Academy, assuring the Lions of the region title. Roark still remembers heading to Athens for that game, which Prince Avenue starter Josh Fields, now in the Seattle Mariners’ organization won for Prince Avenue. Lakeview Academy accepted the Region 8-A championship trophy on-site in Athens after the game.
"That was just such an intense week for us," Roark reflected. "That was a huge game, because if Prince Avenue had lost we would have had to go on the road after the first round of the playoffs."
This season, the Lions left nothing to chance. Lakeview Academy won the last four region games by at least 10 runs, and nine games total in region play by double figures this season. The Lions’ forte this season has been relentless hitting, with five every day starters hitting above the .400 mark.
Lakeview senior catcher and No. 3 hitter Brett Armour is hitting .459 with 51 RBIs and a school-record 14 home runs this season. Ross Biegler (.492 avg., 29 hits) and Cash (.437 avg., seven home runs, 37 RBIs) also provide support in the middle of the order.
Cash is continuing to dominate on the mound with a 7-0 record, 0.82 ERA and only 15 hits allowed in 42.6 innings pitched. Ward (5-0, 2.23 ERA) and Taylor Simpson (4-0, 4.75 ERA) have also put together impressive seasons for the Lions pitching staff.
"It’s been a coaches dream having our top three pitchers throwing like they have," Roark said.