ACON—The Trinity Lions baseball team said goodbye to the GISA in a big way Sunday with a Class AAA state title over Frederica in a series played at Mercer University.
After splitting the first two games on Saturday, the Lions defeated the Knights in the third-and-deciding game, 10-4.
The victory sends the Lions into the GHSA next year in style and softens the disappointment of losing in last year’s GISA finals.
Trinity fought off weather issues which forced the postponement of Friday’s opener in the best-of-three series and a determined Knights team en route to its state title.
Trinity won the delayed opener Saturday 5-0 before losing 13-4 in the second game and forcing both teams to return to Mercer for Sunday’s finale.
The Lions’ loss on Saturday was just the second of the year for Trinity and also served as a wake-up call in Sunday’s championship.
The victory gives head coach Blake Austin a state title in his first season as a head high school baseball coach.
“So much goes into this,” Austin said. “I was here for their game three last year when they lost. This team has so much trust in me and the staff in how we do things.”
After Frederica forced Sunday’s third game, Austin challenged his team to responded to the adversity.
“Frederica punched us in the mouth last night and this was the first time this team has really had its backs to the wall. It’s a testament to this team and the coaching staff. The coaches were up until 2 or three preparing for this game.”
Trinity put the ball in the hand of starting pitcher Jake Estes on Sunday and the senior delivered with a four-inning, five strikeout performance.
“I felt confident going into the game,” Estes said. “They gave me that big lead in the first inning and that helped. This just feels great.”
From there, the Lions put the ball in the hands of side-armed specialist Chase Metcalf who allowed just two hits and one run to close out the championship for Trinity.
“I wanted to come in and just do my job,” Metcalf said. “We had the lead and my job was to hold it.”
Trinity batted first in the contest and staked Estes with a three-run lead in the top of the first.
After Trinity loaded the bases in its first at-bat, Brenan Burks cleared the bases with a three-run double.
Frederica tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the second and one in the third.
The 3-3 tie didn’t last long. Trinity scored two runs in the third and four in the fifth to seize the momentum.
Burks started the two-run rally in the fourth with his second double of the game.
Burks scored on Metcalf’s single. The Lions increased the lead to 5-3 when Maury Weaver rippled a single to right field to score Metcalf.
“We just knew we had to come in here and play Trinity baseball,” Burks said. “
The Lions put some distance between themselves and the Knights after sending nine men to the plate and scoring four times in the fifth.
Cal Smith’s double drove in Kyle Riesselmann for the first run of the inning and Trevor Crews kept the momentum going with an RBI line drive to increase the lead to 7-3.
Crew’s RBI performance came less than 24 hours after he pitched the Lions to a victory in the first game on Saturday with eight strikeouts.
Thomas Cordier’s pinch-hit single drove in the final two runs of the inning and gave the Lions a 9-3 lead.
Trinity increased the lead to 10-3 with a run in the seventh inning when Shep Hancock scored on a passed ball.
The Knights added one final run in the bottom of the seventh, but the Lions ended the rally attempt quicky.
Trinity finished the game with nine hits and overcame three errors to secure its final state GISA title.
The Lions finished the game with four extra base hits, including Burkes’ two doubles.
Cordier, Smith and Alex Williford also had doubles.
Frederica was only retired in order once when when the Lions set down all three batters in the fourth, but Trinity managed to pitch out of trouble with some solid defense.
“This is special to coach, to me the seniors and everybody involved,” Burks said. “It so cool for the seniors after they lost last year and tonight we bring home a trophy for them.”