CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. — Deep playoff runs in high school baseball often revolve around several storylines.
For the 2021 Gordon Lee Trojans, one of the potentially bigger ones was written Monday night in game three of the team's 15-6 win in a GHSA Class A public school semifinal against ACE Academy. Senior pitcher Riley King had been Gordon Lee's No. 2 starter most of the season, but after a disastrous quarterfinal outing against Wilcox County (seven runs in 1 innings), he was passed over for starts in Saturday's game two and Monday's game three.
King, though, responded with 4 innings of scoreless, hitless relief after the visitors had put six runs on the scoreboard in the first two-plus innings.
"I'm proud and happy for Riley," said Gordon Lee coach Nate Dunfee, whose team will be seeking its third consecutive GHSA championship. "He responded from the last series and looked sharp."
As did the Gordon Lee bats. Down 2-0 after a half inning, the top-ranked Trojans sent eight batters to the plate, scoring five runs on an RBI single from Kade Cowan (3-for-3, four RBIs) and a three-run double from senior Cade Peterson. The lead grew to 8-2 in the second when Blake Rodgers ripped an RBI double and senior catcher Brody Cobb smashed a two-run homer.
"It was fun to watch us at the plate," Dunfee said. "We worked and talked yesterday at practice and did a drill called the Cuban Drill where we worked to hit the ball to the backside. I'm proud of them. There was no flinch and they kept playing."
The big lead wasn't enjoyed long as the Gryphons (33-6) chased Gordon Lee starter Rodgers with four runs on five consecutive hits, including two-RBI singles from Trevor Derrick and Sam Whitley, to cut the lead to two. Dunfee called on King after Whitley's hit and he escaped the jam with no further trouble.
King would go on to allow two base runners, both on walks, the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Gordon Lee's attack stayed strong, getting three more runs in the third — two scoring on Cowan's single — and getting four more in the sixth, including RBIs from Jacob Neal, Cowan and Rodgers.
Dunfee was pleased with the way his team responded after losing game one vs. the Gryphons Saturday.
"I feel like losing that first game was good for us," he said. "It humbled us and made us hungry, and to tell you the truth that's what I've been waiting to see from this team this year."
The Trojans (35-3) will face Metter, which swept Charlton County in the other semifinal, in the championship best-of-three round beginning Friday with a 5 p.m. doubleheader at Grayson Stadium in Savannah. Game three, if necessary, would be Saturday at noon.
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @youngsports22