St. Pius defeated host Pike County, 8-1, and North Hall prevailed, 11-6, over Pierce County as both road teams grabbed series-clinching victories.
The Purple Hurricanes (24-7) host St. Pius (25-9) in what will be the first semifinal series played at Richard Bell Field in several years.
Both Cartersville and St. Pius have been pushed to the brink of elimination this postseason. The Canes swept through the first round against Morgan County (8-3, 3-0) but had to survive a second-round scare against visiting Woodward Academy (1-4, 7-3, 4-3), winning the final two games to escape the potential upset. Tuesday, Cartersville tagged the Indians for eight runs in a six-run victory and closed the deal with a 5-4, come-from-behind triumph in Game 2.
Canes coach Stuart Chester attributed his team’s ability to gut out a win and avoid a Game 3 to what has been a season-long process.
“I think the experience our guys have got [made the difference],” Chester said. “[It has developed] all the way from [the tournament in] Fort Myers to [playing] Parkview to Brookwood to Lassiter … the Woodward series.”
Indeed, Cartersville has seen its fair share of tough opponents and scenarios.
St. Pius has been no stranger to such scenarios either, especially in the playoffs. The Golden Lions have needed three games to advance in each of their three series. They opened the playoffs by defeating Buford (4-2, 1-2, 7-4) before outlasting North Oconee (8-1, 0-8, 4-0).
Against Pike County, St. Pius repeated a familiar trend, winning the opener of a day-night doubleheader, 9-3, before losing Game, 1-4, to require a third game.
The Golden Lions and Canes square off Monday for a doubleheader, with an if-necessary Game 3 scheduled for Tuesday at Cartersville’s home field.
Meanwhile, North Hall will host Blessed Trinity with an identical schedule of games on Monday and another possibly Tuesday.
The winners of both series would play for the Class AAA state championship on Saturday, May 25. A third game would be the following Monday, May 27.
The Canes are vying for the sixth state championship in school history and first since 2009.