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Playoffs start with tough road test for Blue Devil baseball
041714 SHS BASEBALL 01
Statesboro High pitcher Jordan Finch fires a strike against Hephzibah batter Lane Bunn during the Region 3-AAAA playoffs at Mill Creek Regional Park. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    The Statesboro Blue Devil baseball team will be racking up a few extra miles than it had hoped to, but confidence is still brimming as the Class AAAA state playoff are set to begin.
    Statesboro (19-6) entered its region tournament as a top seed, but a loss to Wayne County in the semifinals prevented the Devils from hosting the opening round of the state playoffs. Statesboro rebounded to earn a No. 3 seed by defeating South Effingham in the Region 3-AAAA consolation game and will head to Sylvester to take on No. 2 Worth County in their state playoff opener.
    “Obviously, it would have been nice to get a high seed and play at home,” SHS coach Jim Simmons said. “We play in a tough region. It took a tiebreaker just to get the top seed in the region tournament and it didn’t get any easier from there. But we aren’t down on ourselves. We’re going to go to Worth County and try to advance.”
    The opening round series was initially scheduled to begin today, but heavy rains in Sylvester throughout the beginning of the week have left the field soaking wet. Today’s scheduled doubleheader has already been pushed back to Saturday. If the teams split those games, the decisive game of the best-of-three series will be decided — again in Sylvester — on Monday.
    When the Devils take the field Saturday, it will have been eight day’s since their last game. Statesboro will have to readjust to game action, but has also been able to hold continuous practices over the last week while Worth County has been drenched in nearly constant rain.
    “Everyone is going to be ready to go,” Simmons said. “Jordan (Finch), Colin (Chance) and Blakely (Brown) are all rested, as are all of our pitchers. We’ll play it by ear as far as how we use them, but everyone is going to be ready.”
    The Rams (19-7) have enjoyed an easier schedule, but also stand as an imposing threat to the Devils’ hopes to make a deep playoff run.
    Worth had an easy task in rolling over the bottom two-thirds of its region for much of the season, but also showed its teeth as the only Region 1-AAAA team to knock off region champ and state championship contender Crisp County.
    Statesboro knows that the Rams won’t be an easy task on their playoff checklist. A lack of game tape and scouting reports from the Devils’ far-off opponent leaves even more in doubt until the teams hit the field.
    “We don’t know a lot about Worth, but we don’t think there’s any question that they’re a very good team,” Simmons said. “That said, we’re also going in there pretty confident in what we can do. We’ve got a long trip and a tough team to play, but I’m confident that we’re going to show up ready to play and advance.”
    The winner of this opening series will take on either Mary Persons or Locust Grove in the second round next week.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.