CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. - Jake Rogers has tried for the past 12 months to forget about the way the 2013 baseball season ended. Now that a shot at redemption is at hand for the senior and his Gordon Lee High School teammates, he's thinking about nothing else.
The Trojans lost two of three games at Charlton County last season, falling 3-1 in eight innings in the finale. Rogers, one of only three starters back from last year's 30-4 team, took the loss in relief.
The two teams are set for a Class A public school rematch at Folkston, beginning today at noon with a doubleheader. A deciding game would be played Monday.
"After losing that game, you think about it every day," said Rogers, the 25-6 Trojans' starting pitcher for game one. "The key is going to be throwing strikes. First game last year they jumped on us because we just weren't ready for some reason. That will be different [this time]."
Charlton County (27-2) returned most of its 2013 champions, led by Region 2-A pitcher of the year Richard Dasher and fellow pitcher Jesse King. But though the Trojans lost most of their offense from last year, coach Mike Dunfee believes his own team's pitching is talented and deep enough to allow a strong chance of winning.
"I expect nothing but a great series, just like last year," Dunfee said. "If we can swing it the way we have late in the season, we'll be fine, because I know our pitching is solid."
Gordon Lee ace Conard Broom, who sports an 11-1 record and an earned run average under 1, likely will start game two. It's a strategy Dunfee used in last year's postseason and so far this year. Broom shut the Indians down in game two last year and, following a day off, started game three and went seven innings before having to come out.
Broom, like Rogers, believes last year's loss will only help the Trojans this time.
"We know what that environment will be like, so we'll be ready," he said. "They got the momentum in the first game and didn't let up last year. We got back in that series, but in the third game they just wanted it more than we did. This year, I can guarantee you nobody wants it more than we do."
With so many new starters, the big question remains how will the Trojans -- younger than last year -- handle the pressure of playing in such a hostile atmosphere
"We know there is going to be adversity, but we just have to keep playing and put it out of our minds once it happens," Dunfee said.
Added Rogers, who is the team's emotional leader: "A lot of our guys have been there, even though most of them didn't play, and they've all played in big games in select ball, so I see no reason why we won't rise to the challenge."
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.