By Michael A. Lough
The Sports Report
Trey Ham said a day earlier that there was nothing stopping Tattnall right now. Prince Avenue Christian can attest to that.
The Trojans turned a pitchers duel in the first game of the GHSA Class A Private championship baseball series into a mercy-rule rout, and then went with pitching and defense for the win to clinch the GHSA Class A Private baseball title Tuesday night at Mercer’s OrthoGeorgia Park.
A 10-run sixth inning led to an 11-0 six-inning win in the opener. Then after a weather delay – worries about rain, enough to put the tarp out before the nightcap’s first pitch – of nearly two hours, the Trojans held on for a 5-2 win to capture the title.
“Prince battled us,” Tattnall head coach Joey Hiller said of his 10th state title with the Trojans. “The second game, you could tell they weren’t gonna just go away.”
The second game went into delay mode about 15 minute before the scheduled first pitch, and the tarp was put on the field as menacing clouds approached. But the wet stuff was more of a strong sprinkle that wouldn’t have interrupted the game had it started, and a lightning strike about 45 minutes later did lead to a true delay.
Prince Avenue Christian was none the worse for wear after a close game became a shortened game, even though Tattnall marched out to a 3-0 lead after two.
The Wolverines got back into it with a pair in the top of the third on an error, walk, double, and single.
But Tattnall did to Prince Avenue Christian what it did in the semifinal nightcap:
countered a nice inning with a matching inning, all but erasing the gains.
A walk, B.J. Spears’ double, a sacrifice and Logan Simmons’ fly to deep left brought in two runs and restored the lead to three after three.
The Wolverines got a two-out runner in fourth and fifth innings, had a leadoff hit erased in the sixth by a 1-6-3 double play,
Then Brooks Gorman, in not his sharpest performance of the season but perhaps his most clutch, got into a potential situation in the seventh with a one-out walk.
And then he got out of it, striking out Mikey Talmadge on four pitches and Luke McDevitt on five.
Gorman gutted his way through 106 pitches in the complete-game win, striking out five a
nd walking three, stranding six Wolverine runners.
“He didn’t have his best stuff,” Hiller said of the sophomore. “He’s normally much sharper than that. For him to go out there and pitch as well as he did, not having his great stuff …”
In last week’s semifinal second-game 10-0 win over FPD, Gorman was again efficient, throwing 78 pitches in six innings with two strikeouts and a walk.
Again, he let the defense have some fun.
It was a championship-stamping win for Tattnall, which was outhit by two and had its lowest run total in five games, and only the second time in the playoffs the Trojans were held to single digits.
“I don’t know how many games in a row we’ve scored over 10 runs,” Hiller said. “It’s been
a lot. I was hoping that we’d have another easy one, but it didn’t work out that way.”
It just worked out, and the gratification level after such a pitching-and-defense win was high.
“Oh my,” shortstop and pro prospect Logan Simmons said. “That’s what they always preach. Do the little things right. Pitching and defense wins ballgames.
“It was a close game, it was. We got through it, though. Good teams find a way to win.”
The opener was a scoreless tie until the fifth when the Trojans turned an error, passed ball, sacrifice and grounder into a run.
Few expected the sixth inning to be the complete opposite.
“That’s the crazy thing about this team,” Hiller said. “When they turn it on, it’s like sharks on blood. They are capable of scoring a lot of runs very, very fast.”
And the 10-run inning started with an out.
Then the Trojans got rolling, starting with Luke Laskey’s double down the leftfield line. A wild pitch and walk preceded Miles Morris’ two-run single, and a fly from Dawson Brown made it 4-0.
“I think we were just embracing the moment,” said Simmons, among the seniors graduating a night earlier. “Once that first hit got going, everybody else got going. We all feed off each other.
The onslaught continued with run-scoring hits from Simmons, Gorman, Austin Marchman, and Ham, with three runs coming in on wild pitches or passed balls.
“When we had the big inning in the first game, it just reaffirmed everything I thought about t
his team,” Hiller said. “That they are so explosive, so deadly. They did a great job.”
Laskey went the distance, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out six.
Simmons, Gorman, Marchman, and Ham each had two hits for the Trojans, and courtesy runner Hunter Alexander scored three times.
Mikey Talmadge had two hits for the Wolverines.
The championship series ended at nearly 11:15 p.m., about six hours and 17 minutes after
the first pitch on an afternoon where the sun was strong and clouds fluffy and white.
The clouds turned imposing toward the end of the of the first game, and apparently it was decided to delay the first pitch rather than start a little earlier and get a few innings in before any weather showed up.
Prince Avenue Christian went into the second with likely few worries. The Wolverines opened two playoff series on the road – including at Savannah Christian, which vanquished Tattnall in two a year ago in the championship series – with losses and came back to win two straight.
Hiller knew that.
“They threw everything they had at us,” Hiller said. “Really tight ballgame. So glad for this team to get another state championship.”