Quarterfinal Playoff Notebook

Killer J's coming through for Canes

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The Killer J's sounds like an Alfred Hitchcock-inspired nightmare, but they've only been a terror for opposing pitchers in the postseason.

The Cartersville foursome of Josh Davis, Jake Gooch, Jordan Wilkie and J.P. Martin have been hitting the ball as consistently as anybody in the Canes' formidable lineup.

In Wednesday's Game 2 win over Spalding that punched Cartersville's ticket to the Final Four, the above players hit second, fourth, sixth and eighth, respectively.

Over the two-game sweep, the group — which is comprised of one senior (Gooch), two juniors (Wilkie and Martin) and one sophomore (Davis) — finished a combined 12-for-23 with four walks, five runs scored and six RBIs.

In Game 1, they accounted for five of Cartersville's six hits. Davis and Wilkie drove in the only runs of the 2-0 win.

"I feel really good," said Wilkie, who is 9-for-20 with two walks, three runs and nine RBIs in the playoffs. "Been working on my swing throughout the week, tweaking some little stuff that can help me on throughout the playoffs. ... When I get up there, I'm more confident in myself and my swing."

The J's went 7-for-11 in Game 2 with three of the four reaching base three times. They all had at least a run scored or an RBI.

Martin scored a run in each game, while finishing a combined 4-for-5 with a walk during the series. His performance, in particular, pleased Tucker as he's seen Martin work to recover from a wrist injury suffered during a spring break game at Lassiter.

"He had a really good first game, got us going," Tucker said. "In the second game, it was 3-0 — still a tight game — and he got a big inning started, twice I think. He had a great series.

"I'm proud of him. He missed some time with an injury. He was frustrated because he couldn't play, and not because he's selfish, he just wanted to help the team. Just really happy to see him have success."

It's that kind of production throughout the order that has the Canes in position to possibly reach the state finals for the first time since 2014.

"Those guys have to come through if you're going to make a playoff run," Tucker said of Wilkie, Martin and the rest of the bottom of the order. "They are, and that's why we'll be playing next week."

WALK THE WALK — The Major League Baseball scouts who converged Wednesday at Richard Bell Field were not happy.

It wasn't that the player they came to see, Cartersville catcher Anthony Seigler, wasn't performing well, it had to do with the way Spalding was pitching to Seigler.

After having been intentionally walked at least once in each of the first two playoff series, Seigler didn't stroll to first base without a pitch being thrown Wednesday. That doesn't mean he was given much to hit.

Across the two games, the senior went 0-for-3 with four walks. That included three base on balls in the second game after many more scouts had shown up. For the season, he's up to 34 walks and a .566 on-base percentage.

In a majority of those at bats, Seigler watched plenty of pitches sail well wide of the zone. To his credit, he did show scouts an incredible eye at the plate, laying off a few pitches that just missed.

Seigler, who seems likely to be drafted before the end of the second round, also showed off great speed on the bases. He twice scored from first base on hits by Mason Barnett. Considering most high school teams send out courtesy runners for their catcher, Seigler's base-running ability is a rare tool for backstops to possess.

Overall, Seigler has shown plenty to scouts during the postseason alone. In the second round against the defending state champion Marist, he hit three home runs and piled up 10 RBIs.

WORK STILL TO DO: Any coach worth their salt will never be satisfied with a performance or series of performances. There will always be something that can be improved upon.

Tucker felt that way.

The team has had a few games, including Game 1 Wednesday, where the offense has struggled at times to bring home runners. It's to be expected against top pitchers.

But given the quality of the teams remaining in the Class 4A state tournament, it's something that will need to be improved upon for the Canes to win their seventh state title.

Perhaps most importantly, Tucker wants his team to be sure to avoid being overconfident entering the semifinals. That's probably one of the main reasons coaches have that never satisfied approach.

"If we sit back and throw ourselves a parade, we're not going to have a very fun day on Tuesday," Tucker said. "... I tell the guys, championship teams, they ascend. They get better as the year goes on. There's always something."