By CHRIS GOLTERMANN, CowetaScore
To think Trinity Christian's baseball team was unnerved by a one-run loss to Dominion Christian in a walkoff earlier this season in Marietta may have been a gross understatement.
The Lions took out any frustrations in a 12-0 victory that lasted five innings on Tuesday at home, with Shep Hancock throwing a 1-hit shutout that helped Trinity move back into at least a share of first-place with the Knights.
At 14-1-1 and 8-1 in GISA Region 1-AAA with only a home game Friday against Bethlehem Christian remaining in the region schedule, the Lions locked up a first-round state playoff series at home and at worst would host a one-game playoff for the region title if they can continue to take care of business.
Dominion, also now 8-1, closes out its schedule on Thursday against Heritage School, which continues to battle for third place with Bethlehem and Loganville.
Since a 9- 8 loss at Dominion, Trinity has outscored five region opponents 74-9, with the Knights the latest victim of a fifth straight double-digit outburst.
Brennan Burks went 3-for-3 with 2 RBIs to lead Tuesday's production.
Trinity pounded out 11 hits and yet another home run, the latest coming on an immediate tworun blast by Cal Smith following a leadoff single by senior catcher Alex Williford to open the game. Both had two hits in the victory.
The Lions now have connected for 35 home runs in 16 games, with Smith adding his eighth of the season and fourth in as many games.
The junior, who is verbally committed to Mississippi State, also has five doubles and a triple this spring while one behind junior Kyle Riesselmann for the team-lead in homers.
Riesselmann has nine homers, seven doubles and two triples in his first season at Trinity.
Seniors Williford and Jake Estes equally stayed hot at the plate. Williford had two hits including an RBI double along with 3 RBIs after connecting on a grand slam in last week's win at Heritage.
Estes added a double and 2 RBIs while on a recent tear that's included a threehomer, 9 RBI effort in a 21-3 blowout of Bethlehem last week.
Pitching, meanwhile, has equally remained steady.
The Lions have held their last five region opponents to five hits or less while coming off Friday's no-hitter against Holy Spirit.
Hancock's only hit allowed on Tuesday came in a game-opening single in an effort where he retired his final nine batters in order. The sophomore right-hander, who also went 2-for-3 at the plate, struck out seven and walked two.
He worked out of a firstinning, two-out jam with runners at first and third by coaxing a ground out to Estes at first base.
Trinity's bats carried that momentum into a seven-run rally in the bottom of the first where the Lions batted around the order. Williford added an RBI double on his second plate appearance that closed out the early 7-0 lead.
The Lions then added three more runs in the second including Estes' RBI double and one in both the third and fourth innings to force the mercy rule.
Riesselmann also had a hit and a walk in his four at-bats.
Trinity now owns a plus-11 in run differential between the two frontrunners in 1-AAA.
Heritage School played Holy Spirit on Tuesday while continuing to battle Bethlehem and Loganville for third place among three teams with 3-5 records in region play. A score was unavailable.
The Hawks were coming off Friday's 12-4 loss at Bethlehem.