A spot in the Class A postseason is locked up. But the Commerce High baseball team won’t know its competition until the regular season ends this week, coach Steve Cotrell said.
Entering Monday, the Tigers (17-6 overall, 14-4 in 8-A) were expected to finish as the region’s no. 3 seed, with two games remaining against Towns County (1-16) and Tallulah Falls (0-15).
However, two George Walton Academy losses and two Commerce wins would move the Tigers into the 8-A’s no. 2 seed, Cotrell said.
Such a scenario is ideal but unlikely, he added, since the Bulldogs (19-5, 15-3) are expected to defeat both Lakeview and Riverside Military Academy.
What that means for a no. 3 Commerce is a best-two-out-of-three series beginning Monday, April 30, at Tiger Field. The third game, if necessary, would be played on Tuesday.
The Tigers’ opponent will be the no. 4 seed from Region 7-A. Right now that appears to be Washington-Wilkes (7-13). Glascock County, currently no. 3 in 7-A, might also be an option, depending on the teams’ results this week, Cotrell said.
What the Tigers recognize is how two series in one week could drain the team.
Monday’s games are considered a preliminary or play-in series to fill out the Class A state playoff brackets. The first-round is scheduled to begin on Friday, May 4.
A similar draw last year resulted in Commerce, which battled in a play-in series to defeat Whitfield Academy in three games, dropping its first-round series to Darlington.
“We hit the wall on that Friday,” Cotrell said. “If it does stay the way it is, we need to take care of business on Monday.”
Taking care of business is what the Tigers did last week, with quality wins over Prince Avenue, 9-8, and Athens Academy, 10-0.
The Wolverines played to their potential, Cotrell said, challenging the Tigers on offense in particular.
“They are a much better team than their record shows,” the coach said. “We didn’t play bad. They just swung the bats.”
Two Prince Avenue players earned eight of the team’s 10 hits, the coach added.
A possible setback for the team entering the final stretch of the season involves an injury suffered by sophomore starter Drew Whitfield. The left-fielder foul tipped a ball into his right eye in the third inning of Saturday’s game against Athens Academy.
The injury required emergency attention. While Whitfield is OK, it’s unclear when he will return, Cotrell said.
This week, freshman Alec Aguilar is expected to step into Whitfield’s place, he added.
Last week’s results
Commerce 9, Prince Avenue 8
CHS—Keenan Lord 2-5; Cody Streetman 2-3, 1 RBI; Colton Davis, 1-2, 1 RBI; Drew Whitfield 1-4, 1 RBI; Tyler Southerland 1-2, 1 RBI; Daniel Streetman 1-4, 1 RBI.
Commerce 10, Athens Academy 0
CHS—Hitters, Lord 3-4, 2 RBI; Chandler Rogers, 2-4, 1 RBI, Cody Streetman 1-2; Josh Swistak 2-3, 2 RBI; Colton Davis 1-2, 1 RBI; Aguilar 1 RBI; Tyler Southerland 3-3, 2 RBI; Robert Hayes 1-2, 1 RBI. P, Colton Davis, 5 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strike out.