0612 Matthew Ellis

Post 20 pitcher Matthew Ellis throws a pitch during the Braves’ 1-0 loss to Lexington.

Post 20 baseball coach Glen Evans had high expectations for his team heading into this season. Those expectations have only risen as Post 20 heads into the playoffs next week.

Post 20 will open a best-of-5 series against Rock Hill at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Legion Field. The Braves will play at Rock Hill at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and return home to play 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Braves will begin their pursuit of a state championship after having a bye week during the first round of the playoffs. They clinched first place in their league with a 3-2 win over Greenville on July 2.

Post 20 still had an opportunity to maintain momentum after playing in the Marshall Gates World Series, a wooden bat tournament in Salt Lake City. Evans said the experience the team had in the tournament last week could be a valuable advantage against Rock Hill.

“We swung the bats pretty good against some very high quality pitching,” Evans said. “Nothing against anybody we play (in the playoffs), but every team we played out there was full of college-level, select-team players. I think that going out there, seeing guys who are Division I-level pitchers for six straight games, hopefully it’s going to have us prepared for our playoff run.”

Last summer, Post 20 let an early series lead slip away and lost to eventual state champion Chapin/Newberry Post 193/24 in the second round.

The Braves were expected to rely on a bevy of quality pitching arms this season, and it’s helped them win plenty of games when the offense struggled. Now that the hitting has started to come around in recent weeks, Evans said it’ll be key for his team to keep playing at a high level in order to make a state championship run.

“Our biggest problem this year hasn’t been the opponent as much as it’s been ourselves,” Evans said. “I’m more concerned about how we approach it. If we play the way we can, don’t make errors, swing the bat and do what we’re capable of doing, I think we’ll take care of ourselves. If we give extra outs and walk people, we’re going to have a hard time. I’m really more concerned about us raising our level of play.”

Post 20 will likely start Matthew Ellis on the mound in Game 1. Ellis has had a strong year pitching, and he’s been a catalyst at the top of the batting order for the Braves. Zach Overholt is a candidate to start for Post 20 in Game 2.

The Braves will do light workouts over the weekend in preparation for Rock Hill as they recover from their Utah tournament.

“I expect that (Rock Hill) will be very competitive, and a very good team,” Evans said. “They draw from a good area. Hopefully we’ll play our best baseball of the year starting Monday.”

Contact sports writer Wesley Dotson at 864-943-2530 or follow him on Twitter @WesleyPDotson.