BASEBALL: Treutlen next up Gordon Lee in state semifinals

It's been six seasons since Gordon Lee last played in the state baseball semifinals.

All that will change on Monday.

The fifth-seeded Trojans (27-2) will take part in their first Final Four since 2007 when they host the ninth-seeded Treutlen Vikings at Claude Hendrix Field in Class A public school tournament.

And it will be the visitors who will have the most recent Final Four experience.

Treutlen (19-8), from Region 3, will be making their second trip to the semifinals in the past three seasons. The Vikings lost to Providence Christian in the Final Four of the 2011 season, ending a 29-6 campaign.

Last year's team went 13-10 and failed to qualify for the post-season, but a somewhat youthful squad has made their return this season after winning their first two state playoff series.

Head coach Brent Korn's Viking hoard took down eighth-seeded Clinch County on the road in the first round, 5-0 and 3-1, before taking two of three at home in the quarterfinals against 16th-seeded Lincoln County, who upset top-seeded ECI in their first-round series.

Lincoln took Game 1 against Treutlen on Thursday, 9-7, but the Vikings won the nightcap, 12-2, then rallied from an early 3-0 deficit to beat the Red Devils, 6-5, in Friday night's elimination game in Soperton.

"They're a scrappy bunch," Gordon Lee head coach Mike Dunfee said of the Vikings, "but every team that's made it this far is good so we expect a battle."

Outfielders Jordan Brinson and Brad Sumner are the only two seniors listed on the Vikings' roster. Sumner is the team's leadoff hitter and hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning on Friday.

The junior class consists of pitcher/shortstop Matthew Powell, the team's ace, along with pitcher/second baseman Daniel Johnson, pitcher/shortstop Matthew Powell, outfielder/catcher Kyle Rosen, and outfielder/first baseman Austin Daughtry.

Five sophomores, including catcher/pitcher Brad Cammack, and nine freshmen round out the roster.

Treutlen is averaging just over six runs a game on offense while giving up an average of four runs per ball game. They have scored nine or more runs nine times this season and their pitching staff has allowed two runs or fewer nine times.

By contrast, Gordon Lee is putting up nearly 10 runs a game while allowing a shade over two runs a game. They have scored nine or more runs 19 times in 2013 while holding opponents to two runs or less 20 times.

A dozen of the Trojans' games this season have ended before a full seven innings were played, including all four of their state playoff wins.

Gordon Lee opened with a 12-1, 17-0 sweep of Irwin County, and followed up with a 10-0, 12-2 sweep of Turner County. In all four games, the Trojans have put up five or more runs in a single inning, including a 15-run outburst in the fourth inning of Game 2 against Irwin County.

Gordon Lee, whose only two losses of the season have come at the hands of Region 6 foes and private school tournament semifinalists Darlington and Mt. Paran Christian, went to the semifinals in both 2006 and 2007.

The Trojans lost at home to Eagle's Landing Christian Academy in 2006, and were eliminated at Calvary Day the following season.

Although Treutlen has the more recent playoff success of the two teams, Dunfee said he believes his team's senior-heavy roster serves as a counterbalance.

"The fact that (Treutlen) is in their second Final Four in three years would concern me if I had a young team," he said, "but we have a lot of seniors with a lot of big-game experience, so I think we'll be fine. Like we've stressed all season long, we just have to stay hungry and stay humble. If we do all the things we're supposed to do, we'll be in the ball game."

Game 1 of the best-of-three series is slated for Monday at 4 p.m. with Game 2 to follow that evening. Game 3, if necessary, will be played at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

Dunfee said his team is champing at the bit to get the series started.

"We practiced for a little while (on Friday)," he added, "but it didn't take long for them to get sick of it. They're just ready to play."

The winner will advance to the state championship series against either second-seeded Charlton County or 11th-seeded Trion. Gordon Lee would host Trion, but would travel to Charlton County.