There will be no rest for the Alexander Cougars baseball team.
With a region championship already secured and the No. 1 seed awaiting them for the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs, the Cougars don’t plan any let up in their last two games.
Alexander clinched its first region championship since the 2012 season with a 13-3 win over South Pauding on Wednesday evening. The Cougars travel to South Paulding today for their regular-season region final.
Regardless of today’s outcome, Alexander is locked into the top spot and the Spartans will be the region runner-up.
Alexander closes the season on Saturday at Whitewater.
“We are still going full throttle,” Alexander coach Chris Brown said. “We are going into these two games to win. There is no let up for us.”
Brown said he wants to keep his team sharp for next week’s playoffs, which will pit the Cougars against the No. 4 seed from Region 7-AAAAAA.
“The intensity will start to build now that we are near the playoffs,” Cougars senior Gavin Harmon said.
In Wednesday’s win, the Cougars broke the game open in the sixth in with seven runs. The big inning was a produce of Jason Hinchman’s home run, a double by Adam Smith and a single by Payton Grant.
The Cougars were aided by homers from Justin Culpepper (fifth inning), Tristan Capocci (second inning) and Hinchman.
It was the first time this season that Alexander had three different players to homer in a game. In all, the Cougars collected 13 hits.
“It was great winning the region at home,” Brown said. “This was by far our biggest crowd.”
Nathan Mapstone got the win after going six innings and give up three runs on four hits with four strikeouts.
With the win, Mapstone improves to 5-1 with a 0.43 ERA. He has 63 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched.
“Going into these last two games we need to go strong,” he said. “We can’t get slack now. We have to make sure everybody is on the same page.”
The team said it will treat the next two games like the playoffs since both South Paulding and Whitewater will be in the postseason.
Whitewater is currently in fourth place in Region 3-AAAAA.
Alexander is not sure who it will face in the playoffs next week since Alpharetta, Northview, Cambridge, Johns Creek and Dunwoody are in gridlock for the final three playoffs spot.
“We are just going to get after it in the next two games and see what happens,” Brown said. “We know whoever we face will be a good team. We just have to keep improving and stay sharp.”