BY DOUG GORMAN
The Trinity Christian baseball team decided to make a loud statement in the spring on its way out of GISA.
They did it with a Class AAA state title in a dramatic three-game series against Frederica Academy at Mercer University in Macon.
After a rain out on Friday night, the series was extended into Sunday after the Trinity and Frederica split games on Saturday.
Trinity won the first game 5-0, dropped the second game 13-5 and capped off the series with a 10-4 victory.
The Lions finished the season with a 26-2-1 record, losing just once in the regular season when they fell to Dominion Christian.
Trinity also tied a game against Piedmont Academy early in the season.
The championship came in head coach Blake Austin’s first year.
“The last 10-percent is the hardest thing of this game,” Austin said. “It’s the last game of the year. Everybody’s hot, everybody’s tired. You can be a 90-percent guy and have semi-success if you’re good. But it’s those little things that are going to lead to success on the field. They’ve bought in this year.
Austin pep talk before Sunday’s finale was simple.
“My message on the bus this morning, was reap what you sow, and you’ve been sowing since January. Nothing has changed. We’re going to stay the same team. We’ve been aggressive at the plate all year,” Austin said. “Be yourself, trust yourself and you will succeed.”
In the championship, Trinity jumped on Frederica early. the first inning on a bases-loaded triple by Brennan Burke with two outs to give the Lions a 3-0 lead.
The Knights tied the game in the third inning.
Trinity responded by adding two runs in the fourth inning after Burke doubled and advanced to third base on a fielder’s choice. He was driven in by a Chase Metcalf single. Metcalf advanced to third on two passed balls and scored on a single by Maury Weaver to make the game 5-3 after four innings.
The Lions scored four in the fifth inning on a walk to Kyle Riesselman who scored on Caleb Smith’s double. Trevor Crews connected on an RBI single.
Thomas Cordier smacked an RBI double to drive in two more runs to give Trinity a 9-3 lead after five innings.
With Trinity’s success on the diamond, plenty of accolades followed with outfielders Riesselmann and Calin Smith sharing county GISA Player of the Year honors.
Both outfielders batted close to .500 and also played a huge role in the playoffs.
Riesselmann finished with 13 homers and Smith 12 as part of the Lions’ potent offense.
Trevor Crews finished as Pitcher of the Year for the Lions.
Three other players from Trinity earned a spot on the All-County Team, including second baseman Brenan Burkes, pitcher/third baseman Shep Hancock, and catcher Alex Wood.
This spring, the Lions won’t have a chance to defend their title since they have moved to the GHSA.