HIGH SCHOOL HARDBALL: A week of oddities for local teams

Last week provided a couple of minor, but interesting, oddities for some Gwinnett high school baseball teams.

Most of these involved pitching, with Grayson's staff giving up a total of five hits over the final three days of the National Baseball Invitational.

Yet the level of competition lived up to its billing, and the Rams had to scratch out wins in two of those games, and actually dropped a 2-1 decision to T.C. Roberson of Asheville, N.C., despite five no-hit innings by Taylor Allum.

In addition, the combined one-hitter thrown by Jack Banda and Korey Anderson in a 5-3 win over Christian Brothers of Memphis was just one of several gems thrown either Thursday or Friday, including complete-game, one-hit shutouts by Lanier's Matthew Ramsay, Wesleyan's Johnny Richards and Hebron Christian freshman Jake Hershman.

But perhaps the most curious oddity was the week-long, three-game series between Wesleyan and Greater Atlanta Christian.

That's right, I said week-long, three-game series — something you almost never see in high school ball, and with good reason.

"We're limited by the 26 games in the regular season (mandated by the Georgia High School Association)," Wesleyan coach Brian Krehmeyer pointed out after his Wolves defeated GAC 5-4 Saturday to sweep the Region 6-AA series. "If your region is eight teams three times, that's 21 games right there. So, I don't think any other region can do this, unless it's as small five or six teams."

True, being limited to just five total teams gives Region 6-AA the flexibility for its teams to play each other three times, though last season, Region 7-AAAAA was able to adopt a similar three-game region slate for each team when it was limited to just seven teams.

The one difference was that Region 7-AAAAA split up those games into a two-game "series" spread out over three days the first go-round through the region schedule, followed by a single game on the second.

Personally, I prefer Region 6-AA's current model for many of the same reasons Krehmeyer does.

"The benefit of this is that you really develop your pitching staff," Krehmeyer pointed out. "You have to have a No. 2 starter, you have to have a No. 3 starter, which is true for the playoffs. So, our No. 3 starter is going to be tested by great competition.

"It also lends itself to unique strategy throughout the week, Wednesday night and Friday night, working on what happened last game and what do we have to do this next game."

Of course, this is pretty much a moot point, since most regions are too large for the three-game region schedule.

Perhaps, but even with two games, coaches in other regions could still use this model to tweak their own region slate — say, to play those games back-to-back (Monday and Wednesday or Wednesday and Friday) instead of spreading them out over weeks.

Such a move would have a similar effect in challenging coaches to develop their pitching staffs.

That not only helps prepare the better teams for postseason play, but also levels the playing field a little bit by making it highly unlikely a team can see an opponent's No. 1 starter more than once in the regular season.

Of course, I can see where there would be some downsides to the back-to-back plan, such as maybe getting a little too familiar with each other, which could let memories (and perhaps tempers) get short in a series involving two heated rivals.

Still, I kind of think the benefits at least warrant some though by most region's coaches — or not. Just something to think about as the region schedules have gotten under way in earnest, and are really starting to heat up this week.