E.A. Sports Today

Comeback thwarted

Piedmont rally comes up short, Trinity Presbyterian sweeps Tuesday doubleheader to win the Class 3A state title

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Matt Deerman gathered his Piedmont baseball team in front of the third-base dugout before the start of the bottom of the seventh. It wasn’t to give the players an emotional pat-on-the-back for a year well played in a game that was about to end their season.

It was to remind them they had been in tough spots before and had usually found a way to pull it out. As long as they still had at-bats they had every chance to do something special and to go out and make it happen.

The Bulldogs were down two runs to Trinity Presbyterian going into their last bats Tuesday in the Class 3A title series at Jacksonville State, but as they have shown many times before – in baseball and other sports – they’re never out of it until they final out is made. That was Deerman’s message.

Unfortunately, there was no rally this time. The Bulldogs did bring the tying run to the plate with one out, but Trinity right-hander Coleman Stanley closed it out with two infield grounders to finish off a Game 3 three-hitter that completed a doubleheader sweep and carry the Wildcats to the state championship. 

Trinity won the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader 6-5 to even the series and then took the nightcap behind MVP Stanley 3-1 to deny the Bulldogs in the finals for the third time in six years.

“All these guys played football; we were down 28-0 at the half in football (championship game) and I knew they remembered that,” Deerman said. “They have a no-quit attitude. It was like, guys we’ve got three outs left; it’s not over ‘til that last out is recorded. That’s what we talked about.”

“We’ve been in bigger games than this; I never gave up on them, I don’t think they ever gave up on us,” Game 3 starter Austin Estes said. “There’s no doubt in my mind I know we could have won that game, but things didn’t go our way today. We’ve had tons of things go our way last week and the football season.”

“We’ve always been that type that doesn’t stop until the last second or the last out is recorded,” Cassius Fairs added. “We all wanted to rally. We were trying to find a hit. We needed a few of them to go in order but we couldn’t find it. We couldn’t get the momentum back on our side.”

Trinity led 2-0 after three innings in the second game and Stanley wasn’t giving up much, needing only 44 pitches to get through the first four innings. Piedmont finally cracked him in the fifth on Estes’ triple to center and centerfielder Max Hanson’s RBI ground out.

“Max came in saying, ‘Coach, you can’t see the ball in the outfield for all the white shirts (in the stands),’ and, sure enough, we get a pop fly and the guy never sees it,” Deerman said. “We cut it to one run and had the momentum and they went back out and squashed our momentum a little bit.”

The Wildcats scored an insurance run in the sixth on a close play that looked like the final out of the inning.

Jordan Jenkins tagged up into third base on a foul pop at first base that was the second out. He scored when Mac McClinton hit a ball up the middle that Mohon kept from getting to the outfield and seemed to have beaten Webber McClinton to second for the third out, but he was called safe and Trinity had a two-run lead.

“The ball was hit up the middle and I heard (Mohon) call ‘ball,’ so I let it pass and kind of veered off,” said Estes, who returned to short after pitching the first five innings in his final high school game. “He grabbed it and tagged second base and the umpire’s sitting there asking if he’s got the ball in his hand and he’s got it and then he calls him safe. I don’t know.

“(Mohon) did a great job. I personally thought he got there and it would have ended the inning. Can’t go back and fix it now, but it was a great play by Mohon.”

Trinity scored six runs in the first three innings of the opener to grab an early 6-1 lead, but the Bulldogs chipped away and made it 6-5 in the fifth on a run-scoring wild pitch and RBI singles by McClane Mohon and Jake Austin.

Wildcats starter Fleming Hall touched the upper 80s and 90s with several pitches, but had to come out after reaching his freshman pitch limit in the sixth. Grayson Ashe came from behind the plate and kept the Bulldogs from getting any closer.

The doubleheader sweep continued a comeback story for the Wildcats (33-7), too. The championship series marked the third time in the 2022 playoffs they lost Game 1 and came back to win the series.

“It was just a game of resiliency,” first-year Trinity head coach Jarrod Cook said. “We didn’t get some breaks early, Game 1, even Game 2 a little bit, the ball didn’t roll our way, but it rolled our way there.

“There was no panic, no flinch. We’ve been talking about it all year. We refer to a military term of being in a foxhole and who we want in our foxhole when our backs are against the wall and these guys just responded to that. We’ve been against the wall a lot this year and hadn’t been perfect, but when it came time to get the job done our guys stepped up.”

Game 2
Trinity Presbyterian 6, Piedmont 5

Austin Estes ss4 110Simmons Byrd 2b4010
Max Hanson cf4030MacMcClinton cf4110
Jack Hayes c4000Grayson Ashe c3010
Noah Reedy 1b4 210Wilson Albrecht pr0200
McClane Mohon 2b4 221Ben Easterling ss2211
Jake Austin lf4012DM Lieux lf3123
Ridge Fagan 3b4010Chris Bryan rf2000
Sloan Smith rf3020Brady Rascoll 3b2012
Cassius Fairs dh2000Jordan Jenkins 1b1000
Brodie Homesley p0000Ross Sanders c0000
Webb McClinton dh3010
Fleming Hall p0000
Piedmont0101300 —5 11 1
Trinity204000x —6 8 2

E: Estes, Easterling, Hall. DP: Trinity 1. LOB: Piedmont 8, Trinity 6. 2B: Easterling.

Homesley (L)4.286654
Hall (W)5.1105413
Ashe (S)1.210001

Game 3
Trinity Presbyterian 3, Piedmont 1

Simmons Byrd 2b4010Austin Estes p4110
Mac McClinton cf4111Max Hanson cf3001
Grayson Ashe c2010Jack Hayes c2010
Webb McClinton pr1110Trevor Pike pr0000
Ben Easterling 1b2001Noah Reedy 1b2000
DM Lieux lf4000McClane Mohon 2b3000
Chris Bryan rf3000Jake Austin lf3000
Wesley Stallings ph0000Ridge Fagan 3b3000
Brady Rascoll 3b4010Sloan Smith rf3010
Jordan Jenkins dh2100Cassius Fairs dh3000
Fleming Hall ss2000Omarion Foster ss0000
Coleman Stanley p0000
Trinity1010010 —3 5 2
Piedmont0000100 —1 3 2

E: Hall, Stanley, Reedy, Foster. LOB: Trinity 10, Piedmont 6. 2B: Ashe. 3B: Estes. SF: Easterling.

Stanley (W)731105
Estes (L)542137

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