Pope Back On Top, Sweeps Allatoona For 2021-2022 GHSA 6A Title
It has been four years since the Pope Greyhounds baseball team claimed their last Georgia High School Association state title and although 2021-2022 was a year of change for the Hounds with new head coach, Chris Turco, leading the way, determination helped lead Pope back to the GHSA 6A championship best of three series, where they took on the Allatoona Buccaneers, who had been one of the best teams in the state all season.
The two teams met twice during the regular season, splitting the season series, setting up a best of three series that could go the distance for the GHSA 6A title. The Hounds would come out and dominate in game one, winning it by a final of 10-0 and putting the Buccaneers’ backs against the wall in a must win situation. However, in game two, Pope would score a run in each of the first three innings, taking a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the third.
The Bucs, would attempt to stop things from getting away from them and with two outs and the bases loaded, Pope pitcher, Jack Butler would not crack under pressure as he would strike out Allatoona’s Michael Barron on a 2-2 pitch to get out of the inning and leaving all three base runners stranded. In the top of the fourth, the Hounds would tack on three more runs, taking a 6-0 lead and after Allatoona would get one back in the bottom half of the frame, Pope would get another three run inning in the top of the sixth inning.
Thanks to near perfect defensive play by the Hounds, Pope would only give up two runs in game two and would go on to pick up the 9-2 win to complete the series sweep and claim the 2021-2022 GHSA 6A championship, their fifth in program history and third in six years. “I was telling some people the other day, this might be our best defensive team ever,” Coach Turco said following Thursday night’s championship win, noting that the Hounds defense anchored the team throughout the season.
When asked if he thought that in his first season as head coach, the Hounds would end up playing for a state title, “that’s crazy dreaming right there,” Turco said, admitting that he just wanted to come in and simply keep Pope’s tradition of winning and post season appearances going. “Man, I just hope we make the playoffs this year, I hope I don’t screw this up,” Turco said jokingly. He would go on to say that ultimately, it was the confidence of his players that played a major role in the Hounds winning the state championship Thursday night.
“I’ll say this one thing, the kids never had a doubt, they told me at the beginning the year, ‘coach, we’re going to win state’ and I was like ‘holy cow, hey man let’s do it’ so proud of them. They continued the tradition, I just happen to steer the ship,” Turco said.