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Prep baseball in stretch drive

     At first glance: 7-8 overall, 4-5 region record
     Last five games: 2-3
     How to make the playoffs: Finish No.1 in region or finish the season ranked in the top 16 in the state.
     Overview: With a big 11-0 road win over Glasscock County Monday night, the Portal Panthers are not out of contention for a state playoff birth.
    The Panthers, 7-8 overall, have nine games left on the season and need to finish strong to get into the top 16 ranking.
     Treutlen is 10-0 in the region and appears as though the Vikings will earn the automatic state playoff bid.
     Portal head coach Dennis Moore said his team needs to focus and take each game one step at a time.
     “We didn’t play too well last Friday, but we bounced back today and came out pretty focused,” Moore said. “We just have to focus and give our best effort.”
     The Panthers road win over Glasscock County snapped a two-game losing streak. Portal’s offense had been held to two runs in to games before exploding for 11 runs on the road.
     Austin Brack had two hits and two RBI along with Chase Kirkland. Parker Parish led the way with a team-high three RBI.
     “It’s always good to get a win like that where every pitch isn’t stressful. Hopefully, it gave us a boost of confidence,” Moore said.
     Going forward, Moore said his team needs to win at least six or seven of their final nine games to have a shot at the playoffs.
     Pitchers Cole Bugsy and Evan Street have pitched well as of late for Portal, and if the Panthers can continue to get positive offensive production they should make the final games of the season interesting.
     “We put ourselves in the position where we don’t have much margin of error for the rest of the season. We’re just trying to get better at every phase of the game,” Moore said.
     The Panthers have a matchup against Savannah Country Day on Wednesday followed by a double-header against Jenkins County Friday.
Southeast Bulloch
    At first glance: 10-4 overall, 8-4 region
    Last five games: 5-0
    How to make state playoffs: Win first series of region playoffs
    Overview: Southeast Bulloch’s baseball team established themselves as the team to beat in its sub-region.  After starting the year 0-4, the Yellow Jackets have strung together a 10-game win streak to take first place in the sub-region.
Good pitching and timely hitting allowed SEB to move into first place, while a knack for winning games late keep the win streak going.
    The Yellow Jackets won in extra innings against Jenkins and went ahead late in Monday’s 7-6 win over Tattnall County.
    “We’ve won a few in a row and we’ve had some close ones. Our guys are gaining confidence as we go and we feel like if the game is tight, we have a chance,” SEB head coach Brandon Peterson said.
    SEB is closing out the end of the season strong. Pitcher Bryce Harnage, who pitched a complete game against Tattnall Monday, continues to play well as of late.
     “We’ve had really good pitching and we’ve found a way to score a bunch of runs.  It’s mostly a team effort so far. It’s a bunch of guys finding a way to get it done,” Peterson said.
     The Yellow Jackets have proven they can score in droves, platting 21 runs against Johnson in late March.
     With five games left on the schedule and a double-header against Beach High today, coach Peterson said the main focus is on what the team can control.
     At first glance: 8-10 record, 4-6 region
     Last five games: 0-5
     How to make state playoffs: Win first series of region playoff
     Overview: The Blue Devils have secured a spot in the region playoffs despite a 13-5 region loss to Richmond Hill Monday. However, head coach Jim Simmons knows his team has more work to do.
     Statesboro has lost six region games in a row and now sits as a potential four-seed in the region playoffs.
     In order to move up to the No. 3 seed in the region playoffs, SHS will have to win its final two region games and Effingham will need to lose at least one of its last two region games.
     “Regardless we’re in the region playoffs and at worst the four seed,” Simmons said. “Goal number one is to be a region playoff team, so we’ve secured that goal, but we want to win every time that scoreboard comes on. “
     The Blue Devils didn’t just suffer a tough loss on the scoreboard, but lost a leadoff hitter as well.
     Brown was hit by a pitch in Monday’s game and didn’t return for action. Simmons said Brown, who was struck in the head, will be fine but requires additional monitoring before he returns to play.
     “He’ll be alright. He’s young, but what’s most important is his health. If he’s out for two weeks, that’s why we carry the number of players we do and we trust the guys that are willing to come in,” Simmons said.

    Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.