TRION, Ga. - Donald Morgan makes no bones about it: The Trion Bulldogs are hot and afraid of no one.
Trion easily dispatched Jenkins County in Thursday's GHSA Class A public school baseball quarterfinals by scores of 10-0 and 11-1, and in doing so reinforced what Morgan and crew already knew.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now," said Morgan, who earned the pitching win in game one and had four hits and five RBIs in the two games. "We'll play anybody anywhere. Our motto is 'Say When.' Put nine players on the field and say when."
Seeded 11th out of 16 teams, the Bulldogs (18-10) get to test that motto Monday when they travel to the Florida line to face No. 1 playoff seed Charlton County in a doubleheader start to a best-of-three semifinal series.
Thursday's sweep again featured the dynamic mound duo of Morgan and Ethan Young. After lefty Morgan limited the Eagles to three hits and struck out 10 in the five-inning first game, Young went all seven innings in game two, giving up four hits and also striking out 10.
Offensively, the Bulldogs had 13 hits in game one and 12 in game two, including Morgan's solo homer and two doubles. The first-game hitting star was first baseman Cody Brown, who was 4-for-4 with four RBIs.
"We're still playing baseball in the second week of May in Trion, where we usually have the [football] pads out about now," said elated coach Jason Lanham. "This is a special bunch and I told them all year to just get out of Region 6-A and good things can happen. It's been a long time since they've made this kind of run. I couldn't be more proud of them, but we're not done."
Lanham's Dogs jumped out 2-0 in game one on Brown's two-run first-inning triple and were up 3-0 in the fourth when they sent 10 batters to the plate, scoring five times to put the game away. Morgan's two-run single capped the inning in which all five runs scored after two outs. Morgan had to battle on the mound, but he twice left the bases loaded and consistently did his best work after getting into trouble.
"I had some tough innings, and I had a hard time finding my release point, but I found it when I went to the stretch," he explained. "We've had great pitching all year, but we started out struggling at the plate. All those rainy days in the tee really helped us out because we're hitting it. Today we had a lot of two-out magic."
Nick Bryant and Kingston Lanier got things rolling in game two with RBIs as Trion took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Morgan's homer made it 3-0 in the third and the Bulldogs scored three runs in the fifth and four more times in the sixth. Morgan had RBIs in each inning, as did Gabe Howell.
Young had only one tough inning when a pair of walks led to the Eagles' only run, but he didn't allow a runner past first base the rest of the way.
"Our pitching was great again and we've picked it up at the plate," said a beaming Lanham, who had a quick answer when asked about the possibility of playing Region 6 rival Gordon Lee in the finals. "That would be a great thing for this area. I would love nothing better than to see 3,000 people watching us play for a state championship. But we've got one more big hurdle to clear, and so do they."
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.