May 7, 2013

Rain, rain go away

Northwest Whitfield, Grady will try to finish state baseball series today

Devin Golden
devingolden@daltoncitizen.com

— At least Northwest Whitfield High School’s baseball players know if they win today, they won’t play the second round on no rest.

The finish to the Bruins’ Class 4A first-round series against the Grady Grey Knights was delayed again after Monday’s inclement weather soaked Richard S. Chumley Field and made it unplayable for the scheduled 5:30 p.m. start. It is the third day in a row that rain has covered the area, but the forecast for today is reason for more optimism.

The result is a second reschedule to the series’ third and deciding game, which will begin today at 5:30 p.m. pending the slim chance of more inclement weather keeping the field from drying.

The series started last Friday with a doubleheader split — Grady (11-13) won the first game 3-1, and Northwest (22-6) took the second 11-8 — and the third game originally was set for Saturday, but Monday’s rain and poor field conditions kept the teams from playing.

The Georgia High School Association’s Constitution and By-laws prohibits any athletic contests from taking place on Sundays, so the game had to be moved to Monday.

The winner of the series faces Region 8 runner-up Stephens County, which swept its first round series on Friday against Alexander. According to the playoff brackets provided by the GHSA, the series is scheduled to begin Wednesday.

However, that has changed.

A notice on the GHSA’s website (www.ghsa.net) says winners of all series completed after Monday will begin their next series on Thursday. Winners of series’ completed on Friday, Saturday or Monday will start the second round on Wednesday if both teams meet the mandated finish.

“It’s nice to have a day in between,” Bruins coach Todd Middleton said. “We’re not even looking at that yet. We have to get by today.”

Today includes a 20 percent chance of rain, according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

Grady, from Atlanta, finished fourth in Region 6, while Northwest won the Region 7 championship. The Grey Knights’ ace, Liam Henery, finished with a complete-game victory in the opener.

Middleton previously said he expects to see Henery pitch the third game, and the extra day off almost makes it a certainty.

As for the Bruins’ ace Seth Pierce, Middleton said it is still up in the air whether he starts today. Pierce threw more than 100 pitches in the Game 1 loss. The other two starters, Andy Whisenant and Wade Terrell, are available, Middleton said.

“He’s still not going to start,” Middleton said of Pierce. “I may sleep on it and change my mind. As of now, he won’t start. Everybody is available. We may use all three if we need to.”

Entering the new week, Northwest and Grady were one of two series not complete in Class 4A. The other was the series between West Laurens and Statesboro, which was scheduled to conclude on Monday. However, there were multiple ones from each of the other classifications that were listed as incomplete on the website as of Monday evening. Class A’s brackets have five series which are incomplete. Class 2A and 3A each had two unfinished, Class 5A had three not complete and Class 6A had seven.

“There’s one in Class 3A that hasn’t even started before (Monday),” Middleton said, referring to the series between Appling County and Central-Carroll.