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Gwinnett teams hoping for intangibles as baseball playoffs open

Photo: Karl L. Moore  Grayson first baseman Taylor Allum (13) flips the ball to pitcher Korey Anderson (12) covering first for the out during Friday night's game at Grayson.

Photo: Karl L. Moore Grayson first baseman Taylor Allum (13) flips the ball to pitcher Korey Anderson (12) covering first for the out during Friday night's game at Grayson.

Throughout each round of the state high school baseball playoffs, there are all sorts of intangibles that help determine which team wins every best-of-three series.

The same will be true for 14 Gwinnett County schools in five different classifications when they begin their postseason runs with doubleheaders this afternoon.

"Our kids are ready to go," said Norcross coach Jonathan Wyman, whose Blue Devils make their first postseason appearance in five years when they travel to Johns Creek for a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. "It's so hard to get to this point, it's almost a huge weight off your shoulders when you get there. We're a (No. 4) seed, so nobody expects us to win, but we know what we've got to do. We've just got to see if we can go out and execute."

Among those intangibles are how hot a team is coming into the postseason. For example, two-time defending state champion Parkview comes into its first-round Class AAAAAA series against Etowah on a 10-game winning streak, while Region 7-AAAAAA champion Mill Creek comes into its first-round series against Alpharetta winners of 15 of its last 17 games.

Then there is the depth of a team's pitching staff, which most of the county's top contenders enjoy.

"I think our pitching staff is set up for a three-game series," said Grayson coach Jed Hixson, who will have experienced arms like seniors Korey Anderson, Taylor Allum, Chris Erwin and Jack Banda to choose from when the Rams host Roswell beginning this afternoon at 5 p.m. "We're real confident in that. We're deep on the mound, so we're excited about the opportunity."

Then, there are the intangibles that are beyond any control of the players and coaches, such as the weather.

An increasing chance of rain throughout the day prompted at least one series -- South Gwinnett's Class AAAAAA first-round series at Walton -- to move first pitch of today's doubleheader up an hour to 4 p.m.

And with an even greater chance of rain forecast for Saturday, it could affect any if necessary third games scheduled for that day.

Then there are the circumstances facing Gwinnett's two Class A private schools.

Both defending Class A champion Providence Christian and 2011 Class A champion Hebron Christian didn't find out for sure it was in this year's private school posteason until the final power rankings, and the brackets, were finalized Wednesday.

That will make for a short turnaround when the Storm travel to take on Savannah Christian and the Lions hit the road to meet Darlington with doubleheaders this afternoon.

But Hebron coach Josh Carter agreed with the sentiment stated by Providence coach Adam Cantrell earlier this week.

Despite the uncertainty, his team's approach will remain the same.

"It's not going to be any different," Carter said. "We're just taking it game by game, inning by inning and pitch by pitch. If we take care of our own business, everything will be fine."