Gwinnett vs. Gwinnett: Local teams looking to knock each other out in state baseball tourney

In a first round full of Gwinnett-on-Gwinnett intrigue, the best storyline from the opening round of the Class AAAAA state baseball playoffs will be at South Gwinnett today.

That's where the Comets, coached by the departing Roger Parham, will host the Mill Creek Hawks, who qualified for the postseason in just their second year of existence.

Parham will leave South at the end of the year and take an assistant job at Mill Creek under current head coach Doug Jones.

So he will either a) see his South tenure come to an end this weekend or b) end his future team's season with a bitter first-round exit.

"Well, we've already played once this year," said Parham, whose current team lost 7-2 to his future team on March 17. "So it really is just South Gwinnett vs. Mill Creek. There is not any separate agenda or anything like that. We're just good friends.

"It does add a little twist since next year I'll be working with Doug instead of against him. But it doesn't change the fact that it's South against Mill Creek."

And it's just one three Gwinnett-on-Gwinnett series starting today.

In what has become a common theme this year with all the team sports, Region 8-AAAAA will again battle Region 7-AAAAA in the first round of the state playoffs.

Which means local teams knocking each other out to advance to the second round.

"There's a plus and minus side to it," Parham said. "We've got seven teams in the playoffs this year from the county, so more Gwinnett teams have an opportunity for the postseason. The negative is that at least three will get knocked out.

"The positive is at least three will move on."

The only non-Gwinnett-vs.-Gwinnett matchup was Thursday when Brookwood, the No. 3 seed from Region 8, traveled to Chattahoochee to take on the defending state champions.

The other two series are Region 7's No. 4 seed North Gwinnett traveling to take on Parkview and No. 1 seed Collins Hill taking on Region 8's fourth-seeded Grayson Rams.

"Any of these regions, they aren't for the weak of heart," said Collins Hill head coach Paul Pierce, whose team won the school's first-ever region title last week by finishing off a perfect 7-AAAAA record. "It doesn't matter if you draw the (No.) 1 seed, the (No.) 4 seed or the (No.) 7 seed. There are guys that are already at home that are real good teams.

"And when we finish the first round, unfortunately there will be a few more really good teams at home."

Pierce, Parham and the rest of the Gwinnett coaches are just hoping their teams survive the same-county showdowns this weekend, which should be quite a treat for local baseball fans.

"There are no bad teams left," Pierce said. "And if you think about it from a fan's perspective, you can drive 20 minutes anywhere in the county and see some great baseball. It's just a matter of where you want to go.

"There will be (three) quality games going on right here in your backyard."