Four former Canes in NCAA Tournament
by Jason Greenberg
May 27, 2014 | 1681 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cartersville High School baseball team’s season came to an end Saturday.

However, four Purple Hurricane alum will still be in action when the NCAA Tournament begins Friday.

2013 graduate Connor Justus helped lead Georgia Tech to the ACC Championship Sunday as Justus had a two-out, two-RBI single in the eighth inning to lead his team to a 9-4 victory over Maryland in the ACC championship game.

The Yellow Jackets are the No. 3 seed in the Oxford Region and will match up against Washington in the first game Friday at 4 p.m. Jacksonville State and Mississippi also are in the region. The winner of the four-team, double-elimination bracket will move on to play the winner out of the Lafayette Region in a three-game series to advance to the College World Series.

Justus is the starting shortstop for Georgia Tech and is hitting .265 on the season with two home runs, 29 RBIs and 27 runs scored.

He produced the game-winning hit against No. 22 Miami on March 15 with a walk-off RBI single in the 10th inning that won the series. He also had a 13th-inning RBI single that gave Georgia Tech the lead for good in a win at No. 13 North Carolina just seven days later.

Justus was named the ACC Player of the Week in early April when he helped the Yellow Jackets win a series over then No. 1 Florida State.

He hit .471 that week and notched his final hit of the week in the ninth inning off Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

2011 graduate Sam Howard also helped lead his team, Georgia Southern, to a conference championship in the Southern Conference.

Howard helped the Eagles to a win Thursday over top-seeded Western Carolina to eliminate the Catamounts in the conference playoffs. He threw 6 2/3 innings for the win with four strikeouts in the game. He then came back and threw a perfect ninth inning in relief and picked up the win as Georgia Southern came back from one run down in the final inning on Sunday.

The Eagles are the No. 4 seed in the Tallahassee Region and will match up against Florida State in the first game Friday at 6 p.m. The winner of the four-team, double-elimination bracket will move on to play the winner out of the Louisville Region in a three-game series to advance to the College World Series.

Howard owns a 2.60 ERA for the Eagles and a 6-6 record in 15 appearances this season, 14 starts. In 86 1/3 innings pitched, Howard has struck out 84 batters, including seven against Georgia in the first game of the season. Howard pitched five scoreless innings in the game and allowed just three hits.

Howard was named Southern Conference pitcher of the week on May 12 when he threw 8 2/3 shutout innings in a 1-0 win over Western Carolina. He struck out 10 batters on the day and walked just two, allowing just five singles to the Catamounts.

Also playing in the Tallahassee Region is Kennesaw State, which won the Atlantic Sun Championship with a win over Lipscomb Sunday. Redshirt freshman Kendall Hawkins and junior Colin Bennett are both former Canes playing their first years with Kennesaw State.

The owls are the No. 3 seed in the Tallahassee Region and will match up against Alabama in the first game Friday at noon. The winner of the four-team, double-elimination bracket will move on to play the winner out of the Lafayette Region in a three-game series to advance to the College World Series.

Hawkins has made six appearances for the Owls, three starts, and has a 2.70 ERA in 13.1 innings.

He picked up the win against Georgia Southern on April 30 when he threw four innings and allowed two runs.

Bennett is hitting .315 on the season with two home runs and eight RBIs in 54 at bats. He has an on-base percentage of .464 on the year.