BY CHRIS GOLTERMANN
One has to go all the way back to April 10 of last year to find a regular season baseball game where Trinity Christian came up short of a victory.
On Thursday, Trinity was six outs away from maintaining that streak when another set of Lions pulled the rug from under them.
Hebron Christian foiled Trinity’s attempt at polishing off a comeback effort, scoring twice in the sixth and then retiring the side in order to hand last year’s GISA state champions their first loss in GHSA play in a 9-8 decision.
The non-region loss to Hebron, last year’s Region 8-A champion, dropped Trinity to 5-1 overall.
Hebron snapped a four-game losing streak that included a doubleheader sweep by Archer and road losses at North Oconee and Lanier while improving to 3-6-1 overall.
Head coach Blake Austin said earlier this spring that he wasn’t expecting Trinity to follow the same 21-2 run as last year’s state title while using the schedule to its advantage.
“We’re throwing our guys against tougher region opponents. The wins are great, but it’s more about developing our kids,” he said. “That’s the plan. The plan is to develop first and worry about the wins later.“
The game came down to a two-out triple by Hebron’s Garrett Howe that scored both the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the sixth after Trinity had stormed all the way back from a 6-1 deficit.
A walk to Hebron’s Jackson Boyd allowed an inning to continue after a pair of passed balls moved a lead runner to move to third. Howe, however, knocked both teammates in with a line drive to center to wipe out a five-run rally by Trinity in the top of the sixth.
Down 7-3, Trinity batted around with two outs to take its only lead of the game, using three hits, a walk, an error and a hit batsman to its advantage.
Boyd’s error at second allowed the inning to continue while allowing the first of five runs in the sixth to score. Despite immediately picking up the second out, Hebron allowed a hit and a walk sandwiched between an RBI single by Trinity senior Cal Smith.
With the bases loaded, Shep Hancock cleared them with a line drive to center off Boyd in relief to put his team on top 8-7, only for Hebron to respond in kind in the bottom of the inning.
Trinity, which fell behind 2-0 after one and 4-0 after three, was forced to make the most of six hits while led by Smith’s 2-for-4 effort with a double and 3 RBIs.
Kyle Riesselmann and Jayce Blalock also hit safely with Blaylock keeping a six-game hit streak going with an RBI double in the fourth that finally got Trinity on the scoreboard.