HOMERVILLE -- Bremen Blue Devil baseball coach Mark Clark got the last laugh back in 1990 the last time he and Clinch County coach Cecil Barber met.
They meet again Friday for the Class A baseball state championship in Clark's backyard, but with two wins Barber will be able to get in his last laugh -- and it'll be permanent.
Clinch, 8-0 in this year's playoffs, will leave the friendly confines of Panther Field in Homerville for its first road game of the playoffs in Bremen for today's 4 p.m. doubleheader. It will also be Barber's last games as head coach with Clinch baseball. He's said he'll step down at the end of the season to concentrate solely on football.
But it won't be the first time Barber and Co. have had the five-hour ride to northwest Georgia.
"We won the triple crown [three state championships in a school year] in Bremen in 1989," Barber said. "They came down here [Homerville] in '90 and beat us for the state title. They always play good baseball up there. That's where (long-time state House speaker) Tom Murphy is from and they've got top of the line everything."
The Panther baseball program won five Class A state championships in a seven-year period from 1986 to 1992. Bremen won in 1990, and neither have won since.
If the Panthers (26-7) are to have a repeat of 1989, they'll have to rely heavily on their two starting pitchers Rhett Barber, Cecil's son, and Rick Corbitt.
Barber has been the ace thus far, throwing three complete games in four starts. In 27 innings pitched, he's struck out 46 batters with a 1.81 ERA. Corbitt has pitched in 18 1/3 innings, striking out 18 with a 3.06 ERA. Both are 4-0 in the playoffs.
Bremen (25-2) will also have to contend with Clinch's bats, which are getting hot at the right time. The two hottest Panther hitters, Rance Morgan and Adam Tolle, went a combined 10-for-15 with 10 RBIs and three homeruns in Clinch's semifinal series with MacIntosh County Academy.
"Adam Tolle is hot right now and Rance finally has his stick going again," Barber said. "That's one thing about our lineup, it's hard to pitch around."
Said Morgan, "Early in the season I was real hot and then I went cold. Then Rhett started hitting and picking me up and everybody around me started hitting. Then I finally caught it back again."
The Clinch-Bremen "if necessary" game three is set for 1 p.m. Saturday.
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