CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. - Conard Broom had waited - not so patiently, mind you - for nearly a week to get another shot at the one team that has owned the Gordon Lee High School pitching ace.
Broom took advantage of his opportunity with a complete-game, 10-strikeout, three-hitter in a subregion-clinching 4-1 win Wednesday, but in earning the most important win of his young prep career, the sophomore had to battle through a usual rough start. The Tigers, who handed Broom and Gordon Lee their only losses of the season earlier, sent seven batters to the plate in the first inning, though only one scored.
"Usually the first or second inning is my worst inning, but when I get warmed up I usually pitch better," Broom said. "The defense beind me was great and I couldn't have done it without their help. Before this game I was 0-2 against Darlington. I was really pumped to try and get a little revenge."
The Trojans (22-1, 15-1 in Region 6-A) will host Mt. Paran on Friday at 5:30 in the region championship game. On the line will be the top overall seed in the upcoming playoffs for the winner.
After his rough first inning, Broom allowed just one hit over the final six innings and retired the final nine Darlington batters. He only trailed for half an inning as the Gordon Lee offense found a way against Tigers' ace Burton Delaney.
Conner Coakley singled with one out and moved to second on the first of three Delaney wild pitches. Tanner Sexton singled Coakley home and Bay Wright followed with another single. Delaney then uncorked two more wild pitches, each scoring runs as the Trojans took a 3-1 lead.
They added the fourth run in the third inning when Wright singled, moved to second when Bryce Bailey was hit by a pitch and later scored on a double steal.
"With the team speed and the aggressive base-running we have, we can make things happen like that. Putting pressure on the defense is one of our biggest weapons. We're very blessed to have that speed.
"With the team speed and the aggressive base-running we have, we can make things happen like that," Gordon Lee coach Mike Dunfee said. "Putting pressure on the defense is one of our biggest weapons. We're very blessed to have that speed and in tight games it makes a difference."
Dunfee also knew that Broom, once through his rough spot and pitching with the lead, would settle down.
"That's Conard's MO," Dunfee said. "Once he gets down-and-in he's pretty good. It's just like their kid. After the first inning he did a great job of making our kids look silly. The defense behind Conard was outstanding. Jake Rogers made several strong plays.
"That game was a lot of fun. Darlington is a great team and playing for the region championship Friday against another very good team will be a challenge. We just want to compete and have another good game."
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.