By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
Glencoe (15-6) at Piedmont (23-8)
Today, 5 p.m.; Saturday, 1 p.m. if needed
Last season, Piedmont finished as state runner-up in 3A.
Are the Bulldogs just as good now as they were in 2012?
“I don’t think so,” Glencoe coach Charlie Robertson said. “They’re still very good but not as good. Last year, they had two pitchers who could really smoke it in there, and both of them graduated. The guys who replaced them are good pitchers, but they’re not the fireballers that those two were.”
Both coaches expect a good series, with two evenly matched teams.
“Piedmont can hit the ball and they have some good pitching,” Robertson said. “They play strong defense and are very well coached.”
“Coach Robertson does a fantastic job of having his guys ready,” Piedmont coach James Blanchard said. “They are always really good at the fundamentals, so we’ll have to play some good games to win the series.”
Blanchard went so far as to call the teams “mirror images, or very close to it.”
Robertson compared Piedmont to White Plains, who the Yellow Jackets beat in three games in the first round. And Piedmont’s first-round series gave Robertson some hope.
“They had a little trouble with Cleveland,” he said. “Since we swept Cleveland during the regular season, I feel a little better, even if it’s not comparing apples to apples.”
Cleveland beat Piedmont in the opening game, putting the Bulldogs in a tough situation – which they responded well to.
“Sometimes it’s good to have a little scare,” Blanchard said. “If you coast through, you can get overconfident and find yourself in a corner against a quality team and not have the experience to kick your way out.”
The Yellow Jackets have been in a team-wide slump lately, but Robertson saw some good signs last week and hopes the struggles are behind them.
“We hit the ball better against White Plains,” he said. “It gave me some encouragement because we’ll need it against Piedmont, and if we happen to beat them, we’ll need it for sure the next week.”