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Despite homefield, Metter still underdog

    METTER — The Metter Tigers have had a rollercoaster season. The streaky team has been fortunate, however, because the winning streaks have been a whole lot longer than the losing streaks, and they are currently riding a hot streak into the first round of the Class AA State Playoffs.
    Led by pitcher/infielder Josh Vining, the Tigers finished second in Region 3-AA behind Swainsboro, capping off the regular season with a Vining complete-game shutout of the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets. They hope to build on that momentum when they take on the Yellow Jackets of Jeff Davis today at 4 p.m.
    The No. 2 seed earned the Tigers a first-round home series, and the home field advantage will be big as they take on the perennial AA power. Jeff Davis will visit Metter as the favorite in the three game series.
    “(Jeff Davis has) been ranked in the top ten all year,” said MHS coach Don Mims. “They lost a couple of region games and finished third in (Region 2-AA), so that’s why they’re having to come here.
    “All of the prognosticators that I’ve seen are picking them to beat us, so that gives us a little incentive too. We’ve been in that role over the last couple of years — the underdog here at home. We came out on top then, so maybe we can do it again.”
    Last year, Metter overcame being considered the underdog at home to make it all the way to the Elite Eight, where they were joined by Jeff Davis, a team that is no stranger to the state playoffs.
    “Jeff Davis has a quality program,” Mims said. “They played (for the Class AA State Championship) a couple of years ago — they’re just a perennial power. It will be a good test for us.”
    A single-elimination three-game series puts a lot of pressure on a coaching staff, and Mims feels that he must play it by ear to determine exactly what pitching rotation he will use against the Yellow Jackets.
    “Sometimes you try to match up pitchers,” said the Tiger coach. “They’ve got Bryant Kerns — their left-hander — who I think they consider their… You’ve got to sit down and look at it. Do you want to match (Vining) up against (Kerns), or maybe get a split out of them and go to your third pitcher? We don’t know yet. We just have to decide what we want to do.”
    No matter what Mims and his staff decide, it will be a lot easier doing it at home. A split during the Friday doubleheader means that the teams must settle the series at 2 p.m. on Saturday, and playing the series in Metter will work to the Tigers’ advantage.
    “I thing (the home field advantage) is huge,” said Mims. “Over the last couple of years, all of our playoff series’ have been at home. The kids are familiar with the field, and there are just some intangibles that come with home field advantage, so we’re glad to be at home.”

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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