COVINGTON - Although it's a long shot, Eastside baseball coach Michael Poor said that his team has the ability to shock Class AAA No. 4 Creekview in the best-of-three series in Canton at 5 p.m. today.
"We have nothing to lose. We're not suppose to beat them, they're suppose to beat us. I think if they take us for granted, even a little bit, we can shock some people," Poor said.
This is the first trip to post season play since the Eagles swept Lakeside, DeKalb 9-3, 4-3 in 2005.
With the exception of Tim Roton, who was a freshman on that team, no other player has playoff experience.
"I think the experience, overall, will be good for the entire team," Poor said. "At this point, it's go out there, play baseball and have fun. You can't be in a better situation."
Even though the Bears are rated as the fourth best team in Class AAA, Poor feels that his team has a chance, especially if they underestimate Eastside's ability.
"We'll probably end up surprising them because I don't think they realize the quality teams there are in Region 8-AAA. From what I've heard, their region from top to bottom was a lot weaker than what ours was," Poor added.
The key to Eastside pulling off the upset is going to depend on their defense.
Even though the Eagles have good pitching with possible playoff starters Bobby Coggins and Roton, the defense has to find a way to make the routine plays and not commit errors during crucial times.
"If the defense supports the pitching we'll be fine," Poor said. "We don't give up a lot of long balls. The thing that kills us is making errors in crucial situations."
Offensively, the Eagles are led by Git Aiken, who is poised to break Eastside's hitting record.
With 47 at-bats, Aiken leads the team with a .532 average, topping T.J. Hailey's 1999 record of .462.
Also swinging the bat well are Will Gayler (.341) and Seth Allen (.339).
Aiken leads the team with six doubles while Allen currently paces the team with four home runs.
Also important to an Eastside victory is playing in top form from the opening pitch until the final out of the series.
"We have to play good baseball; we have to show up to play. I think with this group being young, if we can get into it from the first pitch and make the fundamental plays I think we'll be OK," Poor said. "I'm not too worried about our bats. We've faced some of the better pitching throughout the year between our nonregion and region schedule."
While a lot of coaches may be worried about playing a top-ranked team to open the playoffs, Poor looks at it as a challenge.
"In a tournament like this, if you're going to go far into it you've got to beat the best teams. So we might as well jump right into the deep end of the pool and get started that way," he said.
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.