NORTH FULTON, Ga. — The Region 7-AAAAAA baseball playoff race again came down to the final night of the regular season, and tiebreakers had to be implemented to determine the final playoff seeds after three teams tied for third. When the smoke cleared following Friday’s games, Alpharetta was deemed the No. 3 seed while Johns Creek missed out on a playoff berth.
Johns Creek, Alpharetta and Dunwoody each finished the regular season Friday night at 9-7 in region play, and all three teams split their regular season series to nullify the head-to-head tiebreaker. That induced the next tiebreaker which determined the seeds by each team’s performance against the top placing teams in the region.
Alpharetta swept region champions Pope during the regular season, Dunwoody went 1-1 against the Greyhounds and Johns Creek went 0-2. Those results gave the No. 3 seed to Alpharetta, the No. 4 seed to Dunwoody while Johns Creek’s playoff hopes were dashed.
“I just hate it for the kids,” Johns Creek head coach Billy Nicholson said. Nicholson said he would play all the team’s seniors in the Gladiators’ final game of the regular season April 20 against non-region opponent North Springs.
The Gladiators ensured they had a shot to be in playoff contention by beating Dunwoody on April 19. Johns Creek starting pitcher Austin Wainer threw a complete game gem, allowing just two hits and one earned run with five strikeouts and a walk.
Wainer and Charlie Morgan hit RBI singles in the top of fourth to give Johns Creek the lead and eventual win.
Falling out of playoff contention on tiebreakers is an especially difficult pill for the Gladiators to swallow considering their late-season climb up the region standings. Johns Creek won six of its final seven region games. The only loss in that span was a 2-1 heartbreaker to Alpharetta in an April 15 pitcher’s duel.
Alpharetta looked to be well in control in its regular season finale against North Atlanta Friday night, but a late game collapse allowed the Warriors to take the win and put the Raiders tied for third in the region.
Alpharetta led 5-1 after five innings, but North Atlanta used five hits and six walks in the sixth and seventh to take the contest, 8-5.
While a win would have secured the No. 3 spot for the Raiders following Dunwoody’s loss, Alpharetta’s wins over Pope, both coming in extra innings, allowed the Raiders to still secure the third seed on tiebreaking procedures.
The Raiders will travel to take on Allatoona in the first round of the state playoffs with a three-game series slated to begin April 24. The series will be a rematch of last season’s state semifinals matchup between the two programs. Allatoona denied the Raiders a state championship berth with a 2-0 series win.
Johns Creek missed out of the playoffs for the second straight season after reaching the state semifinals in 2017.
Cambridge, the No. 2 seed from Region 7-AAAAAA, will host the program’s first state playoff series against Region 6 No. 3 seed River Ridge.
Pope captured its third straight 7-AAAAAA title April 18 with a 7-2 win over Cambridge in the de facto region championship game. The two-time defending state champions open the playoffs against Creekview.