Class A public state championship preview

Posted 5/12/2016

By Tim Morse

Georgia Dugout Preview

Trion coach Jason Lanham laughs when asked about playing a third straight best-of-three series on the road.
"By the time it's all said and done, we will have logged about 2,100 miles," Lanham said.
But the Bulldogs don't seem to mind. They have swept Baconton Charter and Charlton County in the past two rounds to get to this point. Trion will play for the Georgia High School Association Class A public state baseball championship Saturday when they meet Treutlen in Soperton.
The first game of the doubleheader starts at 4 p.m. If a third game is needed, it would be played Monday at 4 p.m. So far in the postseason, neither Trion nor Treutlen have needed a third game.
Treutlen pulled off the stunner of the postseason -- at least in the Class A public division -- when they swept defending state champion and top-ranked Schley County Monday behind a pair of complete-game pitching gems from Zach Hughes and Tristan Cone.
Trion wasn't ranked in the preseason Top 10 and the Bulldogs are in the championship game for the first time in 33 years. The Bulldogs won a Class A state in 1983, while Treutlen has never played for a baseball championship.
"Schley County was a heavy favorite and Charlton County had won 22 straight this season and hadn't lost but about four or five games at home in the last four years ... but Treutlen and Trion swept," Lanham said. "I don't think anybody expected either of us to be here, much less playing for a state title."
The Bulldogs (24-5) have countered on the mound with Drew Williams and Evan Walker throughout the postseason. Chipola (Fla.) signee Gabe Howell has pitched in relief.
The offense has combined to score 42 runs in six postseason games. Howell, the team's leadoff batter, is hitting better than .600 and has been an offensive spark all season. Walker and center fielder Malik Martin have been lethal in the postseason, while Williams and Griffin Floyd have been offensive leaders as well.
The Bulldogs' offense will get a stern test from Treutlen's pitching staff, who has allowed a combined eight runs in sweeps of Miller County, Irwin County and Schley County. No team has scored more than two runs against the Vikings in a postseason game.
Hughes (9-2, 1.10 ERA) and Cone (10-1, 1.07 ERA) may be the classification's top right-lefty pitching combo. After upending Schley in a pair of one-run victories on Monday, Treutlen coach Brent Korn hopes his team doesn't dwell on the upset.
"We told them to enjoy it for a day or two ... you almost feel like because you beat Schley, you should enjoy for a little longer," he said. "But we don't want our kids looking past Trion. They've been really focused. They want to win a ring.
"They're a loose bunch. We've won several games by 2-1, 1-0, 3-2 scores, so it may bother us as coaches, but it doesn't seem to faze those guys."
Treutlen (26-5) hasn't been lights out on offense, but they have scored enough to support the strong pitching rotation. First baseman Titus Benjamin is batting (.391), while right fielder Jordan Morris has been clutch in the postseason and is batting around .370.
Against Schley, it was Cone who helped provide the offensive boost in the series, cracking a two-run homer in the first inning of Game 1 to set the tone.
Lanham knows the task will be a challenging one.
"I have all the respect in the world for coach (Brent) Korn and Treutlen ... they are a quality club," Lanham said. "Our guys have responded well to the travel. They've been all business.
"Obviously, they're going to be a little more tired than Treutlen because of all the travel, but it is what it is. We're excited about the opportunity."