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May 12, 2014

Double home doubleheader for Region 1-AA

TIFTON — Some things are just meant to be. The Class AA baseball tournament continues this afternoon and the last two teams surviving from Region 1 are the Cook Hornets and Berrien Rebels.

Berrien and Cook. Cook and Berrien. Once one part of a jumbo-sized county, they are separated into different ones. Their rivalry is referred to as the "Border War" and no matter the sport, the sides get plenty of mileage from it.

But while the two play today, they won't be playing each other. There is no chance of that happening again in 2014, unless both make the finals. They can come one step closer to making that a reality. If they can get past their opponents, whom both host in a doubleheader — Berrien (21-10) has Greater Atlanta Christian (16-11) at 3 p.m. and Cook (23-9) has Wesleyan (16-13) at 2 — they will be in the semifinals.

Neither Berrien nor Cook have ever faced their opponent in the state baseball playoffs. Cook, who won state championships in 1992 and 2000, lost in the first round in 2013, but were runners-up in 2010, 1998 and 1983. This is the deepest the Rebels have been since 1988, the year of their lone state crown. Their only other semifinals appearance was in 1982.

Pitching has seemingly been the key for both squads. The Hornets have a no hitter this year, against Turner County, and among their pitches have been Sam Goberdhan and Dalton Rentz. Rentz has been shining at the plate as well. Berrien has been using Stephen Powell, Ashton Sparks and Joe McCranie on the hill. Sparks has also produced with a six-RBIs game.

While done with each other for now, it is the feud that has led to their current situation. Each team finished 10-2 in the region. Even though Berrien dropped two games to Fitzgerald, Cook's two losses were to Berrien, thus giving the Rebels the No. 1 slot. The last one, played in Nashville, almost went to the Hornets. Trailing 14-7 in the 7th, they took the game to extra innings. Berrien pushed across a run in the bottom of the 8th.

Both have had three-game series in each of the first two rounds. The Hornets opened with Screven County and lost the opener before rebounding with 4-3 and 7-0 wins. In round two, Maysoe Wiley delivered the game-winning hit in the 5-4 12-inning first game before they fell 9-5 in the second. Game three went 12-8. Berrien beat Dublin 4-1, lost 6-5, then won 10-5 in round one. Round two against Metter started with a 1-0 win, then a 6-4 loss before a 12-2 finish.

Their opponents could tell a similar story. Both Wesleyan and GAC are from Region 6. Wesleyan won two out of three during the regular season and were 6-6 to the Spartans' 4-8 in region standings.

All four teams from Region 6 are still standing. Westminster won the region, Lovett is No. 2, Wesleyan No. 3 and Greater Atlanta Christian No. 4.

The winner of the Cook series will play Benedictine or Lovett. The Berrien winner goes against Westside of Augusta or Westminster.

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