Seems like old times

The Catoosa County News - - COMMENTARY - By Scott Herpst

State base­ball semi­fi­nal matchups usu­ally pit two teams, many times from op­po­site ends of the state, and some times for the first time.

But last Wed­nes­day’s Class 1A pub­lic school state semi­fi­nal se­ries in Chicka­mauga had more than just a lit­tle fa­mil­iar­ity to it.

The teams were fa­mil­iar with each other. The coaches were fa­mil­iar with each other and even the fans were fa­mil­iar with each other.

And the out­come also struck a fa­mil­iar chord.

Af­ter sweep­ing Bow­don in their two reg­u­lar sea­son meet­ings this sea­son, 6-1 and 14-2, Gor­don Lee dis­patched their long-time Re­gion 6-A ri­val two more times at Claude Hen­drix Field to punch their ticket to the state cham­pi­onship.

It will mark the sec­ond year in a row and the fourth time in the past six sea­sons that Gor­don Lee will play for it all.

The Tro­jans (26-8) will face Telfair County in the cham­pi­onship fi­nals af­ter Telfair went on the road and swept Ir­win County, 8-5 and 3-0.

The se­ries will be played in Sa­van­nah’s Grayson Sta­dium, start­ing with a dou­ble­header on Tues­day (May 22) at 5 p.m., with Game 3, if needed, the fol­low­ing day.

“It’s nice to know we’re go­ing back,” said se­nior Ma­son Pet­ti­grew, who recorded the fi­nal out of the se­ries on a catch in right. “That was the worst feel­ing ever last year when we lost, but hope­fully we can get it done this year. I think (the ex­pe­ri­ence from last year) will help us a lot. It just makes us more mo­ti­vated to come back and bring home the cham­pi­onship this year.”

The Tro­jans wasted no time in tak­ing the lead in Game 1. Austin Thomp­son led off the game with a double, which was fol­lowed by an RBI-double off the bat of Hunter Hod­son. A sec­ond run would come home later in the in­ning, thanks in part to a Red Devil er­ror.

Gor­don Lee would blow it open just an in­ning later.

Justin Wooden and Pet­ti­grew led off with back-to-back sin­gles and a wild pitch would move the run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion. Thomp­son would plate a run on a ground­out and Hod­son walked and stole sec­ond to put ducks on the pond once again.

Dylan Mingh­ini hit a high chop­per deep in the hole at short­stop to bring in a run, but the throw the across the di­a­mond pulled first base­man Tra­jan Brown off the bag as Hod­son broke for third. Hod­son would col­lide with Bow­don third base­man Trent Estes and was safe on the play as the ball trick­led to­ward the Tro­jans’ dugout, al­low­ing Mingh­ini to take sec­ond.

How­ever, the ball would roll un­der the dugout net­ting and Hod­son was awarded home plate as Mingh­ini was al­lowed third base on the er­ror. Caleb Hop­kins drew a walk

to put run­ners on the corners and Mingh­ini would score on Chris Pot­ter’s sac­ri­fice fly to cen­ter. J.D. Day would cap the in­ning with an RBI-double to plate Hop­kins and in­crease the lead to 7-0, spelling the end of the night for Red Devils’ starter Luke Rain­wa­ter.

The Tro­jans would put up solo runs each of the next two in­nings. Thomp­son de­liv­ered an RBI-sin­gle to score Wooden in the third and Hop­kins mashed a solo home run to right in the fourth to cap the scor­ing.

Bow­don fi­nally broke up Thomp­son’s no-hit bid with a flare sin­gle to left in the fifth and a lead­off sin­gle in the top of the sixth was promptly erased by a nifty 6-4-3 double play.

Thomp­son would al­low three walks and just the two hits as he struck out six in the com­plete-game vic­tory. He was also the only Gor­don Lee bat­ter with mul­ti­ple hits.

Rain­wa­ter was touched up for seven runs on seven hits and three walks in just two in­nings. He fin­ished with two strike­outs in the loss.

Gor­don Lee 5, Bow­don 3

Score­less go­ing into the top of the third in­ning, the Tro­jans - play­ing as the vis­it­ing team - got on the board on an RBI-sin­gle by Thomp­son, who took sec­ond base on the throw home. Thomp­son would go to third on a wild pitch and trot­ted home on a sac­ri­fice fly off the bat of Hod­son. Gor­don Lee would go on to load the bases later in the in­ning, but failed to do any fur­ther dam­age.

Bow­don (25-10) would get one run back in the bot­tom half of the in­ning. Catcher Leighton Ivey hit a lead­off double off Gor­don Lee starter Jake Poin­dex­ter, which was fol­lowed by a sin­gle from Kiler Cole. Ivey would score on a wild pitch mo­ments later.

But the Red Devils would squan­der their chances for any more runs. Af­ter get­ting run­ners at the corners with one out, a baserun­ning blun­der on what ap­peared to be an ill-timed double steal at­tempt re­sulted in Cole get­ting tagged out by Pot­ter be­tween third and home. Tro­jans’ sec­ond base­man Will Size­more then made a nice run­ning catch of a pop fly in foul ter­ri­tory near the fence to leave the ty­ing run stranded at sec­ond.

Gor­don Lee would pick up three big in­sur­ance runs in the top of the fifth. Thomp­son led off the in­ning with a triple down the first-base line and would score on an RBI-sin­gle by Hod­son, who promptly stole sec­ond.

Two bat­ters later, Hop­kins was in­ten­tion­ally walked for the third time in the game and the move looked as if it would pay div­i­dends as Pot­ter hit a tailor-made double-play ball to short­stop. But af­ter get­ting the force at sec­ond, the throw to first base sailed high, al­low­ing Hod­son to score on the er­ror. One bat­ter later, Day made Bow­don pay by rop­ing a run-scor­ing double to cen­ter to make it 5-1.

Bow­don would get two runs back in the bot­tom of the sixth off Gor­don Lee re­liever Jake Wright, who came in at the start of the in­ning. Wright gave up two sin­gles be­fore Braden Bowen de­liv­ered a tworun double to right. How­ever, Hop­kins would make a nice leap­ing play to snare a line drive at first to help Gor­don Lee get out of the in­ning.

There would be some drama in the bot­tom of the sev­enth as the Red Devils got the first two run­ners on against Hod­son, the Gor­don Lee closer. Hod­son hit the first bat­ter of the in­ning and is­sued a walk be­fore get­ting an in­field pop-up for out one.

An­drew Messer hit a ground ball be­tween first and sec­ond base that ap­peared to clip Cole on the foot. Af­ter

a lengthy con­fer­ence be­tween the um­pires, Cole was ruled out, much to the cha­grin of the Bow­don coaches, who un­suc­cess­fully ar­gued that the ball had al­ready got­ten past Hop­kins. Pet­ti­grew would then haul in the fi­nal out to seal the win and the se­ries.

Mingh­ini had three hits, in­clud­ing two dou­bles, while Thomp­son also had two hits in the win.

Poin­dex­ter went five in­nings, al­low­ing one earned run on five hits to get the vic­tory. He struck out six and did not walk a bat­ter. Hod­son was cred­ited with the save.

Estes took the loss for Bow­don. He pitched all seven in­nings, giv­ing up five runs on seven hits and six walks with six strike­outs. Messer had two hits to pace the of­fense.

“This is a fun bunch that has re­ally come to­gether,” Dun­fee added. “They’re tightknit and they re­ally care about each other. But still, (the state cham­pi­onship) is a base­ball game. No mat­ter what the at­mos­phere is like down there, we just have to pound the zone, make plays de­fen­sively and have timely hit­ting. That’s been the keys for us all year long.

Due to news­pa­per dead­lines, re­sults from the fi­nals were not avail­able in to­day’s edi­tion. Cov­er­age can be found on our web­site and also in the May 30 edi­tion.

Weston Bea­gles (24) prepars the home­run chain for Caleb Hop­kins (cen­ter) af­ter the se­nior’s solo shot in Game 1 against Bow­don. The Tro­jans swept the Red Devils to ad­vance to the Class 1A pub­lic school state cham­pi­onship se­ries in Sa­van­nah. (Photo by...

Austin Thomp­son pitched a two-hit­ter in beat­ing Bow­don, 9-0, in the first game of the state semi­fi­nal se­ries. (Photo by Scott Herpst)

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