MURFREESBORO – Despite suffering a season-ending loss Thursday, Brad Myers was quick to call his Grace Christian Academy baseball team “a legacy team.”
The Lions reached the Class A state tournament for the first time and shocked last year’s runner-up and 2017 champion Loretto not once, but twice. The no-quit GCA squad threatened late in the semifinals Thursday, but a seventh-inning rally fell short as Trinity Christian Academy advanced to the title game with a 6-4 win at Middle Tennessee Christian School.
“This right here, this is the first legacy team at Grace,” said Myers. “They laid a foundation for the program.
“We just fell a little short today, but it wasn’t short of effort.”
After three scoreless innings, TCA scored the first run in the bottom of the 4th, but even after an error, GCA rebounded to limit the mistake to just one run after a high throw to first sailed to the back fence. One run scored, but first baseman Brock Arender recovered quickly and fired to home to pick off the second run and end the frame.
GCA was turned away in the fifth, but TCA kept the momentum and plated three runs to build a 4-0 lead. Starter Ty Davidson wavered in the flurry, but sat down the last batter with his fourth strikeout to get out of the frame with the bases loaded. TCA scored three runs on three hits with two GCA errors in the bottom of the fifth.
In the sixth, Tristan Drake had a leadoff single for TCA and after a sacrifice fly, Davidson was relieved. He pitched 5 1/3 innings. Cooper Fowler entered and got a fly out on the next at-bat before TCA’s Lane Lamberth blasted a RBI-double to right field. Mitch Sisk followed with his second walk and Garrett Bond loaded the bases by drawing a walk as well.
Kitch Cash entered on the mound for GCA and gave up a run with a bases-loaded walk in a nine-pitch battle with Harrison Freemen, but got the final out to end the sixth.
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After Carson Ford’s hard grounder was robbed at first base for the first out in the top of the seventh, Baylor Jones launched the next pitch over the left field fence to ignite GCA in the final inning.
“You know our record looks kind of goofy coming into state because we were 11-16-1 and nobody expected us to do anything, but we knew all along we were going to show up,” Jones said. “This is a great group of guys and we fought to the end.”
Cash followed with a single and Carson Maloney was walked. Brock Arender then singled on a line drive to right field and GCA loaded the bases in the seventh trailing 6-1 with one out. Senior Austin Kasick entered and hit a deep single to right to drive home Cash. After a TCA pitching change and a GCA strikeout, Blake Barton smacked a two-run double to center for the 6-4 score.
“I knew once we had a couple hits going and once Baylor hit that ball, I knew that something was going to happen for us,” Barton said. “That gave us a lot of momentum, we just ran out of time.
“This has been a really fun season. We'll definitely be back.”
GCA went down swinging for the final out as TCA (38-3) advanced to the championship against either Summertown of Greenback.
“I mean we have been fighting all year,” said Myers, whose team went 2-2 at state. “I loaded up a really tough schedule for these guys and they stuck with it and stayed on track down the stretch here. Like I said, we just came up a little short.”
Trinity Christian Academy 6, Grace Christian Academy 4, Class A Semifinals
GCA 000 000 4 – 4 7 3
TCA 000 132 x – 6 8 9
WP – Thomas (1-0). LP – Davidson (0-1). Save – Forsythe (1).
Barton 1-4 2B 2 RBIs
Jones 1-3 HR RBI
Kasick 1-1 RBI
Forsythe 2-4 RBI
Lamberth 2-4 2B 2 RBIs
Freemen 0-2 RBI
Tims 0-3 RBI
KL – Ford, Gill. HBP – Sisk 2. SH –Spurgeon 2. LOB – GCA 4; TCA 9.