CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. — As the top-ranked Class A public school baseball team in the state, these are tumultuous times for the Gordon Lee Trojans.
Mike Dunfee's team just lost its senior cleanup hitter, catcher Dylan Minghini, to a knee injury three weeks before the start of the postseason. Region 6-A co-leader Darlington tested Gordon Lee's depleted lineup Wednesday, a test the Trojans managed to pass in a 3-1 win that showcased how the team will have to win moving forward.
While the Trojans (12-3, 8-1) managed just four hits, they held the Tigers (9-9, 6-2) to six singles and turned double plays in the third and fourth innings to escape serious jams.
"To me, this was about pitching and defense," Dunfee said. "Those two double plays were huge. In those two areas we are fine. Offensively, I don't know if we are just guessing too much at the plate or pressing too much because I've been harping on it, but we have to get going. Without Dylan I think we have too many guys who are trying to take his place."
Gordon Lee scored all three of its runs in the first inning, which took shape with one-out walks by Justin Wooden and McCain Barbee. Caleb Hopkins followed with an RBI double, Chris Potter plated another run with a groundout and Hopkins scored on a throwing error on J.D. Day's stolen base.
"That first inning was good to see, but later in the game we have to get some guys on and make something happen," Dunfee said. "But it's as I always say, when the weather heats up, the bats heat up. Hopefully, the temperature stays this warm like it was today."
Gordon Lee starter Mason Pettigrew worked into the fourth inning, including a third inning when he got Lawson Goodwin to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play with runners at first and third.
He left in the fourth with one out and runners on first and second, but freshman Mason Pettigrew induced Austin Cloud to ground into a 6-4 double play to end that threat. Pettigrew endured his own rough spot in the fifth, loading the bases with one out. He struck out Goodwin before allowing Nick Mauer's RBI single. However, he froze Nolen Wilson with a curve to end the inning.
In the seventh, Pettigrew walked leadoff hitter Trey Younger and was relieved by closer Hunter Hodson, who struck out the next two batters and ended the game on a groundout.
"Mason has done a great job all year, our little freshman, Poindexter, has really helped us and Hoddy came in and did what he always does," Dunfee said. "We've just got to progress and keep getting better. We don't have to be great hitters. We have to be good offensive players and execute. That's our mindset the rest of the year."
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or call 423-757-6296; follow on Twitter @youngsports22.