King’s Ridge captures state baseball championship

Storms through playoffs

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KENNESAW, Ga. – The King’s Ridge Tigers captured the state Class A private schools baseball championship last Saturday, May 17, sweeping past Mount Paran Christian to complete a dominant playoff run.

The Tigers won 7-2 and 10-3 on the Eagles’ home field, avenging a pair of losses to Mount Paran during the regular season.

In four-playoff series, the last two against the Nos. 1 and 2 seeded teams in the 16-team bracket, the Tigers outscored their opponents 84-18, scoring at least 17 runs in each series while never allowing more than five runs.

King’s Ridge, the No. 5 seed, went 8-0 in the playoffs to finish the season 28-4, avenging three of its four losses during the regular season.

The 7-2 victory in the series opener matched the closest game the Tigers played in the state playoffs, as they got consistent, outstanding pitching and overpowering offense.

Wake Forest signee Connor Burns powered the Tigers to victory in the doubleheader opener against Mount Paran, blasting home runs in his first three at-bats. The Tigers led 10-1 at that point, with Burns accounting for six of the runs.

Burns connected for a two-run homer in the first and a three-run blast in the Tigers’ six-run second. Georgia Tech signee Brandt Stallings added a two-run homer in the second and Burns capped the Tigers’ scoring with a solo shot in the fourth.

Stallings and Slade Osborne had two hits each to back the four-hit pitching of Adam Moore, who turned in a complete game effort.

LSU signee Grayson Byrd had three hits and drove in three runs for the Tigers, including a two-run homer in the sixth inning to lock up the win. King’s Ridge trailed 2-1 after the Eagles hit a pair of solo homers in the top of the fourth, but the Tigers came back with four in the bottom of the inning, keyed by a bases loaded, two-run single from Burns.

Burns and Cullen Monette had two hits each, and Kyle Brnovich drove in the Tigers’ first run in the third inning.

Austin Peay signee Austin Higginbotham matched Moore’s complete game pitching performance, limiting the Eagles to four hits and striking out seven.

During the regular season, Mount Paran defeated King’s Ridge 6-0 and 9-1 and finished first in Region 6-A. The second-seeded Eagles went 20-0 in the region and finished 29-5 overall. The Tigers placed second in the region at 16-4.

The Tigers swept No. 1-ranked Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy 11-3 and 7-2 earlier last week in McDonough to advance to the finals.

Stallings drove in seven runs in the doubleheader against ELCA to power King’s Ridge (26-4), which also got strong pitching efforts from Burns and Higginbotham.

Stallings had three hits, two of them home runs, and four RBI in the opener. Burns contributed two hits and Monette and Byrd drove in two runs each. Stallings’ first homer helped lift the Tigers to a 3-0 lead before ELCA came to bat.

The Chargers rallied with three runs in the third to tie the game, but King’s Ridge responded with eight runs over the final four innings, finishing with 13 hits.

Burns pitched a complete game, allowing seven hits and two walks and striking out 12.

The Tigers had three two-run innings in the second game to take a 7-0 lead before the Chargers scored their only two runs in the sixth. Higginbotham also pitched a complete game, allowing five hits and striking out five.

Stallings drove in three runs for the Tigers. Lawson Hill connected for a two-run homer, and Monette and Osborne added two hits each.

Eagle’s Landing was 28-1 coming into the semifinal series, winning 28 straight games after losing its season opener.

RN 05-22-14