Titans capture state baseball title

Win twice in extra innings in finals

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CARTERSVILLE, Ga. – The Blessed Trinity Titans began the state Class AAA baseball playoffs with a pair of last-inning victories, and that’s the way they ended it.

The Titans scored a pair of extra inning wins Saturday, May 24, over defending champion Cartersville to capture a second state baseball championship. Blessed Trinity’s previous title came in 2006.

Blessed Trinity (29-8) won the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader 2-1 in eight innings, and scored a 3-2 victory in nine innings for their fourth sweep in five playoff series.

The Titans went 10-1 in the playoffs, winning five times in their last at bat. It was BT’s second road sweep of the week, as the Titans rolled past Hart County 13-5 and 10-2 last Monday in Hartwell.

Other than the Hart County series, Blessed Trinity played a string of close games, beginning with a pair of last-inning victories over Jackson County in Roswell.

Blessed Trinity coach Andy Harlin attributed his team’s ability to pull out close out games to its “gritty” attitude. “The kids knew how to deal with adversity. If something did not go our way, they pulled together. And we played so many tight, non-region games.”

Junior catcher Cody Roberts was the hero against Cartersville, driving in the winning run in both games and earning the save in the first before giving up a seventh-inning lead in the clincher on a pair of unearned runs.

The Titans were held in check offensively in the first game by Cartersville starter Hunter Osborn, who allowed only one hit in seven innings and pitched around a succession of errors by the Purple Hurricanes.

The only BT hit off Osborn was a single by shortstop Jack Dunn in the third inning, with Dunn scoring the Titans’ first run on an errant pickoff throw.

Cartersville tied the game in the third inning against BT starter Ryan Young, who allowed just three hits and one walk in seven innings and struck out seven.

Young got the win when No. 9 hitter Chris Siebert led off the top of the eighth with a double and scored on Roberts’ single. Roberts then came on to pitch the bottom of the eighth to record the save.

The Titans led 2-0 after four innings in the second game, with starting pitcher Brad Spinner shutting out the Purple Hurricanes for five innings, striking out seven. Twice he got out of bases loaded jams, with BT scoring single runs in the bottom of both innings.

After Nate Lomax worked a scoreless sixth inning, Roberts took the mound in the seventh. Cartersville scored two runs with the help of a costly error on a potential double play grounder, but Roberts pitched a perfect eighth to keep the Titans in the game.

Sophomore first baseman Conor Davis held Cartersville scoreless in the ninth, and wound up as the winning pitcher when Roberts delivered another game-winning hit off Cartersville starter Garrett Rutledge.

Roberts and Dunn both had two hits for the Titans, with designated hitter John Castro driving in a run.

“From day one, this team showed up to practice early and prepared so well,” Harlin said. “I had a feeling for them early.”

The Titans did not need any late heroics in their sweep earlier last week over Hart County.

Davis hit a 2-run homer and Castro blasted a grand slam as the Titans exploded for 11 runs in the first two innings of a 13-5 win in the opener. Roberts chipped in with three hits and three RBI.

Young worked the first five innings to get the win, striking out seven. Lomax allowed one run over the final two innings.

Spinner pitched a complete game in the clincher, allowing four hits and striking out 10 in a 10-2 victory. Davis had two hits, one of them a homer, and three RBI, Dunn added two hits and stole two bases and Castro also hit a second homer in the doubleheader.

Blessed Trinity was a predominantly junior team this season, with Young, second baseman Bryson Jenkins and outfielders Paul Dwyer and Grant Hormuth the lone senior starters. Lomax was the team’s other senior pitcher.

Hormuth, who played through an injury for most of the season, will play college baseball at Presbyterian, with Young an invited walk-on at Georgia Tech.

Roberts, Spinner, Castro, Dunn, center fielder Bronco O’Brien and Siebert are all juniors, with Davis and third baseman Jake Bogosian enjoying outstanding sophomore seasons. The Titans needed only one third game starter in the playoffs, but when they did, freshman Patrick McNamara was the winning pitcher against North Hall.

Roberts led the team with a .409 batting average, 13 doubles and 35 RBI. Davis, Castro and Bogosian were the other primary run producers in a well-balanced offense.

Davis hit .374, led in homers (6), tied Roberts in doubles (13) and was second in runs scored (37) and on-base percentage (.493) and third in RBI (29).

Castro had five homers, 31 RBI and batted .330, with Bogosian hitting .354 with 28 RBI and three homers.

Dunn and O’Brien were the table setters, with O’Brien batting .354 and leading the team in runs scored (38), stolen bases (36) and OBP (.496). Dunn hit .374, scored 33 runs and stole 22 bases. Jenkins (.326) and Dwyer (.313) both batted over .300.

Young (9-0, 1.29 ERA) and Spinner (6-1, 1.67) were the team’s two aces, with Young working a team high 76 innings and Spinner leading in strikeouts (78 in 63 innings). McNamara was 5-2 as the No. 3 starter, with Roberts, Lomax, Davis and sophomore Logan Craighead all pitching well out of the bullpen.

RN 05-28-14