The Trinity Christian baseball team gave first-year head coach Blake Austin a night to remember in his coaching debut with the Lions.
Trailing 13-10 against Tiftarea heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Lions scored four times in their last at bat, capped by Kyle Risselmann’s game-winning two-run walkoff home run to give Trinity the dramatic 14-13 victory.
“We have been ready to play for awhile,” Austin said. “It was a great baseball game. They are some things we need to work on defensively, but I am really proud of this team.”
Riesselmann also picked up the victory from the mound with 2 ⅓ solid innings of relief to hold the Panthers off the scoreboard in the sixth and seventh innings.
Riesselmann struckout the side in the sixth and also struck out two batters in the seventh to finish with five for the game.
Shep Hancock began the Lions’ seventh-inning rally with a double and stayed at second after Thomas Cordier reached on an error.
Tiftarea then recorded the next two outs setting the stage for plenty of last-inning heroics by the Lions.
Calin Smith cut the lead to 13-12 with a double to drive in Hancock and Cordier.
In his game-winning at-bat Riesselmann faced a 2-1 count after the first three pitches before sending the game-winning home run over the centerfield fence.
The two GISA baseball powers are no strangers to each other.
Last year, Trinity beat Tiftarea in the GISA Final Four before the Lions moved on to play eventual Class AAA state champion John Milledge in the championship series.
“They are a good baseball team,” Austin said. “We will probably see them down the road come May in the playoffs.”
Trinity opened the season on a cold Friday night and took turns exchanging the lead with their guest from Tifton in a game that turned into a three-hour marathon.
Both squads did made some early season mistakes as Trinity committed seven errors and Tiftarea five.
The Lions led 6-5 after just two innings, but gave up the lead when the Panthers scored four runs in the top of the third to go up 9-6.
Trinity cut the gap to 9-8 in the bottom of the fourth
Four seemed to be the magic number for Tiftarea, as it put up four more runs in the top of the fifth to go up 13-8, but those were its last runs of the game.
Trinity added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Charles Fuller drove in Cordier with a sacrifice fly to trim the lead to 13-9 and Smith blasted a solo homer run to cut the lead to 13-10.
Smith had the hot hand offensively for the Lions, finishing with three hits and three RBIs.
Jake Estes started the game for the Lions on the mound. Despite not figuring in the decision, he struck out four Tiftarea batters.
Fuller also worked an inning of middle relief for the Lions and struckout a batter.
Tiftarea’s Hunter Hartsfield led the Panthers with four RBIs.
Cain Cooper had five strikeouts and Dawson Patterson four for Tiftarea.
Trinity Christian Lions 14, Tiftarea 13
TA—144 040 0—13 6 6
TC—240 220 4—14 9 7
WP Kyle Riesslemann
LP Colby Grant
HR Trinity—Kyle Riesselmann, Calin Smith
Heritage falls to Calvary Christian
The Heritage Hawks lost to visiting Calvary Christian 13-3 Friday afternoon in a game called after five innings.
Calvary Christian built a 11-0 lead after the top of the fourth.
Heritage scored its only three runs of the game in the bottom of the inning. Jacob Rochester and Cole Stephens drove in runs for the Hawk.
Heritage, however was held to just three hits.
The Hawks also committed six errors.
Vinny Carnazzo and Cabe Corbitt had two strikeouts each for the Hawks.