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Statesboro opens tourney play at Brunswick
Devils need two-of-three to advance
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    It’s baseball playoff time in Region 3-AAAA, and that means the Blue Devils of Statesboro — and seven of their region foes — begin playing for a chance at the state playoffs today.
    Statesboro (12-8, 4-4, No. 3 North Division) makes the long trek to Brunswick this afternoon for a doubleheader against the Pirates of BHS (12-9, 5-3, No. 2 South Division) with first pitch at 5 p.m.
    The Blue Devils have won three in a row, and need to win two-of-three from the Pirates to reach the GHSA state playoffs.
    “We try to break every three games we play into a best out of three series,” said SHS head coach Chris Bishop during Thursday afternoon’s workout at Mill Creek. “We always try to win two out of three and not ever try to lose more than one out of those three. That way it gets us prepared for these kind of situations.”
    Looking back at the 2007 schedule, SHS has only lost two ‘series’ this season: back-to-back losses to Benedictine and South Effingham in mid-March and a three game skid at the start of April.
    The Pirates are coming off a 20-win season in 2006 and are deep in both pitching and seniority.
    “I don’t think we feel like underdogs,” said sophomore first baseman Luke Connell. “But I think it will be better competition than we’ve seen (recently). I think if we play our game, people will be surprised at how many runs we can put on the board.”
    Statesboro coaches have continued to stress the importance of hitting — the Blue Devils’ Achilles’ heel unto this point of the season. SHS is averaging 8.2 runs per game in its 12 wins, but just 3.38 runs per contest in its eight losses.
    “We pretty much stayed consistent defensively, very consistent with pitching — the thing we really keep working on is hitting,” said Bishop. “We need to put good quality swings on the ball and put the ball in play where they have to make plays. If we do that, with our speed we should have some opportunities to score some runs.”
    Senior Forrest Robertson (4-3, 3.40 ERA) is slated to start Game One with sophomore Crawford Simmons (5-2, 1.60 ERA) to follow in the nightcap. Catcher Scott Sarratt said it’s imperative his pitchers keep the ball down this weekend.
    “They have to hit their spots and make sure their offspeed stuff is working real well,” said the sophomore. “If they do that they’re pretty much unhittable. They have to keep their fastballs low and not leave anything up. Otherwise, it won’t be good.”
    The Pirates have lost two straight, including a 6-2 defeat to last place Glynn Academy to end the regular season. If the two team’s split tonight’s twinbill, they’ll meet Saturday at 1 p.m. in Brunswick.

    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912) 489-9408.