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Playoffs on the horizon
Eastside in state playoffs, Alcovy in region tournament
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The 2012 baseball season is nearing its completion with the regular season ending just next week before playoffs begin.

Alcovy will extend its season a little longer before entering the state tournament, thanks to Region 3-AAAA being broken up into two subregions.

Eastside has locked in its position I the Class AAA playoffs, which begin May 4, ensuring a playoff game in Newton County.

Newton rounds out the area teams, still looking for a spot in the Class AAAAA playoffs, currently sitting the first one out in Region 2-AAAAA.

The Rams (11-11, 5-6) played a pivotal Region 2-AAAA matchup Tuesday night, finishing after press time, to help determine playoff positioning.

As of Tuesday afternoon the Rams were in fifth place two games behind Westlake for the final playoff spot. The two teams square off Thursday at Newton County in what could be a showdown for the postseason.

Before a possible fourth-place game arrives, though, Newton faced second-seeded, East Coweta Tuesday night. The Rams went into that matchup wanting to win each of its last four games, all at home.

"If we win out we can control our own destiny," Newton coach Vince Byams said.

After Westlake, the Rams will host first-place Luella on Tuesday.

It will be the second time Newton has seen each of these teams, a fact that can be an advantage to the Rams. Newton lost the previous meetings against its final opponents, but Byams feels it's a different Newton team this time around.

"It's an advantage because we've seen everybody at least once," Byams said. "We're a different team going down the stretch.

"Everything is possible, we're trying to get some things done."

To get what they want - making the playoffs - the Rams will need to get their pitching and defense to match their hitting. The Rams have scored at least 10 runs in each of their last six games, five going for wins.

"I think we need to play solid defense and continue hit ball," Byams said. "We need to play solid defense, eliminate our mistakes and pretty much take advantage of having a good offensive attack."

While the Rams try to play their way into the state playoffs during the regular season, Alcovy is also looking to get into the state playoffs, but need the Region 3-AAAA playoffs to do it.

The Tigers seemingly have the third spot in subregion A locked up, if lower seed teams don't pull of any upset in the last remaining regular season games.

Alcovy (12-9, 8-4) settled into the third spot after Jones County's 6-2 win over Griffin Monday night.

Jones County sealed up the second spot in Region 3A-AAAA with an 8-3 record with the victory over the sixth-seeded team.

The Tigers will enter the region playoffs on April 25 at second-seeded subregion A team Whitewater. The Wildcats (16-5, 9-2) and Tigers have played once this season, with Whitewater winning a close one.

The Wildcats pulled out a 10-9 win in eight innings, but will now meet the Tigers at least twice, and three times if necessary.

"It does let you know you can beat them," said Alcovy coach Casey Bates of the close win.

However, a playoff scenario is different from a crossover game, in the aspect that each team will need to see the others' top pitcher.

That's where Bates feels Alcovy has the advantage - matching its third and fourth pitcher with its opponent.

"That's our goal," Bates said. "In game three it's going to come down to who swings the bat the best."

The winner of Alcovy vs. Whitewater will earn a spot in the Class AAAA playoffs, but it will be a daunting task.
Whitewater reached the AAAA finals a year ago, falling in the championship game to Marist.

The area team which has its postseason path most clearly defined in front of them is Eastside.

The Eagles (18-4, 12-2 Region 4-AAA) are two games behind Spalding with three region contests left to play, and would split the tiebreaker.

"I think the allure of a big crowd hosting is a bit on their mind," Eastside coach Brad Weir said.

With the top seed being a far reach for Eastside, no matter what the Eagles will host.

Eastside is five games up on the third place team, meaning Jackson County cannot overtake the Eagles. The two teams meet on Thursday after hosting Drew Tuesday, in a game that finished after press time. Eastside rounds off the season against Lovejoy and Monticello April 24 and 26, respectively.

When the state playoffs begin May 4, it will be Eastside's second playoff appearance in as many years and Weir's first with the Eagles.

The first-year Eastside coach, although, has made three straight state playoffs while at Jessup.

"It's pretty common ground for me," Weir said. "It's not uncharted waters for (the players) either."

The Eagles picked up a first round win against Howard last season, before falling in the second round to Thompson.

This year with a home series to their advantage, the Eagles are looking to make a stronger run.

To do that they will have to bring in some of the runs that has been stranded lately.

The Eagles have scored a total of 43 runs over their last five games, all wins, but have left plenty of runs on the bases.

"We're not doing very good job right now swinging the bat when we have runners on base," Weir said. "We're leaving a small army on base, and that's never good.

"If we can get guys home, we'll be in good shape."