CHULA -- After vanquishing the Region 4 champions, LaGrange Academy, in the state Class AA baseball quarterfinals earlier this week, the Tiftarea Academy Panthers will now try to eliminate the Region One titlist in the semifinals.

Coach Chad Roberts' Panthers will be in Sparta today to take on the Rebels of John Hancock Academy in the state semifinals. John Hancock won Region 1-AA and is currently sporting a 19-3 record.

The two teams will play a doubleheader today at 4 p.m. to begin the best-of-3 series. A third game, if necessary, will be played tomorrow at 1 p.m.

"They are a good, sound baseball team," Roberts said of the Rebels. "They play fundamental baseball. They will hit-and-run, steal bases and they field the ball well on defense."

After defeating LaGrange in the first game of the quarterfinals, the Panthers (19-5) were blown out 11-0 to force a game three.

That contest saw Tiftarea sprint out to a quick 9-1 lead as the Panthers went on to a 14-7 victory.

In their quarterfinals matchup, the Rebels swept the Terrell Academy Eagles 1-0, 5-4.

Jona Hollinshead was the winning pitcher in game one for the Rebels. He gave up four hits and struck out five.

The only run came in the sixth when Tristan Tollison hit a single that scored his brother, Jonathan.

Down 4-1 in game two, the Rebels scored four runs in the sixth to take the win. Hollinshead had a three-run triple, while Jonathan Tollison forced the other run in with a double.

Matt Brooks was the winning pitcher in game two for the Rebels.

The John Hancock pitchers hope Tiftarea's bats have cooled off. The Panthers had six home runs in their final game against LaGrange.

Clint Karsten had two of the homers, while Blake Phillips added a home run and went 3-for-3 with five RBIs.

"We will have to play well," said Roberts. "John Hancock is the type of team that will not beat themselves."

The winner of the Tiftarea-John Hancock series will play the victor of Memorial Day and Brookwood for the state title. The Memorial Day-Brookwood winner would host the state championship series which begins Wednesday.

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