Blessed Trinity, King’s Ridge take aim at state baseball titles

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NORTH FULTON, Ga. – Both Blessed Trinity and King’s Ridge Christian have made deep runs in the state high school baseball playoffs in recent seasons.

With the playoffs only a few weeks away, the two teams are in position again to take swings at a possible state title.

Blessed Trinity was unbeaten in Region 6-AAA with a handful of games remaining in the regular season, with King’s Ridge second in its 6-A sub-region. Both teams were state-ranked as of last week, with BT second in AAA and King’s Ridge fifth in Class A.

St. Pius handed Blessed Trinity its first region loss of the season, winning 1-0 in 10 innings last Thursday to move into a first place tie in 6-AAA at 11-1. The Titans are 17-7 overall, going 2-2 recently in a national tournament in Las Vegas.

Until last week’s St. Pius game, all their other losses came against top teams from higher classifications by a total of five runs, two of the defeats in extra innings. BT defeated St. Pius 11-1 in the first game between the two teams this season.

The Titans have qualified for the playoffs every year since 2003, winning the state championship in 2006 and advancing to at least the quarterfinals every year but one since then.

Blessed Trinity has been powered by a lineup that has put up impressive numbers top to bottom, with a pitching staff led by the strong 1-2 duo of Ryan Young and Brad Spinner.

Midway through last week, Young was 5-0 with a 0.72 ERA. The senior lefthander had 40 strikeouts in 39 innings. Spinner, a junior righthander, was 4-1 with a 1.79 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 37 innings.

Offensively, the Titans had eight front line players with batting averages of .349 or better. Paul Dwyer and Bryson Jenkins, the only seniors among the group, were hitting .349 and .373 respectively.

Junior Bronco O’Brien was batting .404 and led the team in runs (25), stolen bases (27), walks (16) and on-base percentage (.517). The Titans were also getting big seasons from fellow juniors Jack Dunn (.386, 14 steals), Cody Roberts (.446, 21 RBI) and John Castro (.339, 19 runs).

Two of the team’s top offensive threats are sophomores Jake Bogosian (.422, team high 24 RBI) and Connor Davis (.365, 23 runs, .481 OBP).

King’s Ridge wrapped up second place in Region 6-A South with a 12-2 victory last Thursday at Walker. The Tigers improved their record to 13-3 in the sub-region with three games scheduled this week. Overall, King’s Ridge is 17-3.

The Tigers have made it to the quarterfinals in the Class A playoffs twice in the past three seasons, including their first season in the GHSA (2011) and last year. In the team’s final season in the GISA in 2010, King’s Ridge advanced to the state semifinals.

Last week’s win over Walker avenged an earlier loss, with the Tigers’ two other defeats coming at the hands of sub-region champion Mount Paran, one of just a handful of teams ranked ahead of King’s Ridge in Class A.

Like Blessed Trinity, King’s Ridge has a lineup full of hitters with gaudy statistics. Right fielder Paul Stallings, a Georgia Tech signee, is batting .528 with 12 extra base hits and 16 RBI. Shortstop Grayson Byrd (LSU signee) is hitting .473 with 16 RBI and 12 stolen bases, with Wake Forest-bound Connor Burns leading the team with a .510 average and sharing the RBI lead at 16 with Stallings and Byrd.

Other players enjoying strong seasons are Slade Osborne (.466, 14 runs); Kyle Brnovich (.442, 10 RBI); Cullen Monette (.386, 13 runs), Lawson Hill (.360, 13 RBI) and Adam Moore (.359, 13 runs).

Austin Peay signee Austin Higginbotham is the lone regular batting below .360, but is also the team’s No. 1 starter with a 5-1 record and a 2.50 ERA. Moore (3-0, 2.50) and Burns (2-0, 2.99) join him in the starting rotation, with Slade and Brnovich (four saves) the primary relievers.

MH 04-23-14