Athletics News

State Championship Preview: Baseball


'A story only God could write...'

That's from coach Justin Pollock on this Tallulah Falls Indians 2024 season. It's fitting. Going back to the opening game, the coaching staff and campus knew this could be the best team in program history. But no one could have scripted this.

#2-ranked Tallulah Falls moves on to the GHSA State Championship, as it will take on top-ranked powerhouse Prince Avenue Christian in Statesboro at Georgia Southern. 

Tallulah Falls (27-10) has gotten through the playoffs with some domination as well as a little bit of magic. After a disappointing regular season finale series against Athens Christian that saw the region title slip out of their hands, the Indians put it behind them and have been on fire ever since.

It started with a 2-0 series win over Oglethorpe County, outscoring them 17-2. Then came a gritty Sweet 16 win at Pepperell in which TFS dropped the first game and won the second with a walkoff hit by BJ Carver. The third game was intense, ending in the final out being thrown out at the plate to win the series. The Elite 8 spanned multiple days due to weather, but it was a 2-0 home series victory with a complete game shutout by Chase Pollock and a come-from-behind win that included a 7th-inning game-winning hit again by Carver to clinch it. Taking down King's Ridge on the road in the Final 4 was made possible by a 6-run comeback in game one and a 7-run first inning in game two.

The trio of Cole Bonitatibus (8 wins), Pollock (7), and Andrew Skvarka (5) has been stellar. Ashton Roache, who belted two homers in the Final 4, now has tied the program record of seven for a single season. The lineup is producing at a high level. The Indians average nearly eight runs per game (285 total), and allow just a pinch over four (153). The boys have a 6-game win streak going, and are 16-7 in games away from Higgins Complex.

Prince Avenue Christian (32-3) has seen little resistance all season. To date, the Wolverines have 301 total runs (8.6/game) and 101 allowed (2.9). Their path to the championship includes beating Commerce in the first round, Whitefield Academy in the Sweet 16, Bleckley County in the Elite 8, and Crawford County in the Final 4. PAC has scored seven or more in eight of its 10 playoff games. They've given up five runs or more just three times in that span. 

The Wolverines are led by such hitters as Dylan White (.455 AVG, 1 HR, 48 RBI), Judson Hartwell (.442-5-45), Will Goff (.486-4-43), Andrew Gillespie (.352-2-29), and Hudson Hill (.397-1-25). This lineup bats .370 with a TON of extra-base thump. The offense has 91 doubles, nine triples, and 14 homers with a team slugging percentage of .534 to compliment a .490 OBP. Ace Mason Banks carries a 1.48 ERA and 58 K in 61.2 innings. 

These teams are not strangers - they've played against each other twice this year already. Prince Ave took both, but one was a 12-10 game in which Tallulah Falls had the lead throughout and held a 7-run lead. The other was a 12-2 score. Both teams have taken on King's Ridge, Oglethorpe County, and Commerce. Among those common opponents, Prince Ave is 6-0 (by a 32-7 score) and TFS 7-0 (by a 54-21 score).

The series begins on Friday, May 17 at JI Clements Stadium, with first pitch slated for 3 PM and game two to follow. Game three if needed is to be played on Saturday.

WHAT: 2-seed and #2-ranked Tallulah Falls Indians vs 1-seed and #1-ranked Prince Avenue Christian Wolverines (GHSA 1A DI State Championship)
WHEN: Friday, May 17 @ 3 PM GAME ONE/GAME TWO will follow; 'IF' GAME THREE (May 18 @ TBD)
WHERE: JI Clements Stadium at Georgia Southern University / Statesboro, GA
TICKETS: $15/day GoFan
LIVE STREAM (Subscription Required)

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