CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. — Despite winning the GHSA Class A public school baseball championship a year ago, there is still an edge — a hunger — that permeates the Gordon Lee Trojans.
It was all on display Tuesday night as the Trojans improved to 30-4 this season with a playoff semifinal sweep of Bowdon, 3-0 and 13-4. The two games showed the full range of the postseason-savvy team.
Junior Jake Wright remained unbeaten in 2019 (13-0) and lowered his earned run average further under 1 with a complete-game, 11-strikeout one-hitter in game one. The Trojans' bats ruled game two with 13 hits, three of them and four RBIs from senior outfielder Justin Wooden.
Gordon Lee will travel to Savannah's Grayson Stadium for a doubleheader start to a best-of-three championship series Monday against the winner of the Schley County/Irwin County series. Those teams split Tuesday's doubleheader, with top-seeded Schley winning 6-3 before the visitors won 6-0. Their deciding game three is today.
"This group right here doesn't get too high or too low, they just don't flinch and keep coming back," said Gordon Lee coach Mike Dunfee, whose program will be making its third consecutive trip to the title round and fifth in seven seasons. "You know, after last year my biggest fear was they get complacent, but that hasn't happened."
Wright dominated a swiftly played game one, allowing only a second-inning double to Wyatt Karlovich. He walked two and retired the final 12 batters, seven on strikeouts. Bowdon pitcher Trent Estes was undone by a huge error in the second inning, which preceded Wright's two-out, two-run double for a 2-0 Trojans lead.
"Jake had a bad outing last week and he had to respond, and he did tonight," Dunfee said. "We knew Saturday when he was throwing a bullpen session that he was going to have a good start. He came and did what's he done all year."
Chris Potter, who plated the final run in game one with a third-inning single, put the Trojans up 3-0 in game two with a first-inning, two-out three-run homer. Fellow senior Wooden made it 5-0 in the second on a two-run homer.
The Red Devils (19-21), trailing 6-0 after Cade Peterson's RBI single in the top half of the third, made it interesting with three runs in the bottom half off Gordon Lee starter Jake Poindexter, the big hit a two-run single from Ben Fortson.
It remained 6-3 until the sixth, when the Trojans sent 12 batters to the plate in scoring seven runs on six hits, including a two-run single from J.D. Day and a two-run double from Peterson. Poindexter earned the pitching win, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on six hits while striking out seven.
Dunfee, whose team won its title last year in Savannah, hopes the familiar surroundings will aid his still-hungry team.
"A lot of people were mad about having to go back to Savannah, and I understand it's a long trip and some people can't go," Dunfee said. "I was just worried about beating Bowdon first. Hey, we won it there last year, so it's OK. Really, wherever it is, I'm just happy for the kids to go back to play for a state championship."
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296; follow on Twitter @youngsports22