JEFFERSON — Blessed Trinity used Jefferson’s home field to its advantage.
The visiting Titans hit five home runs, including two from J.D. Sabo, to sweep the Dragons on Wednesday in the second round of the Class AA state playoffs at Horace J. Jackson Field.
“I didn’t think we’d be in this situation,” Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said. “I thought we would have figured out a way to win the second game.”
A must-win in Game 2 was necessary after the Titans (22-8) batted around Jefferson ace Chris Beck during the series opener.
After surrendering 10 runs all season, Beck gave up three home runs and 10 runs on nine hits as the Titans won 10-8.
Beck finished with 11 strikeouts and one walk in 5 À innings, and Blessed Trinity coach Andy Harlin was surprised his team was able to hit Beck so well.
“He’s a heck of a pitcher and I got a ton of respect for him,” said Harlin, whose team won 3-1 in the nightcap to complete the sweep. “We were fortunate to barrel some balls.”
While Blessed Trinity was able to get the timely hits, Jefferson (22-5) was not.
The Dragons stranded 12 runners in Game 1 and ended Game 2 with three consecutive strikeouts with runners on second and third.
“The last inning was typical of the whole day,” Knight said. “When you get in the playoffs you have to get those runners in. You have to take advantage of scoring opportunities and we didn’t.”
Aside from the threat in the seventh, Jefferson never had a chance to get things going in Game 2, when it recorded just three hits and the lone run came in the first inning on an error by Blessed Trinity.
That 1-0 lead didn’t last long, as Sabo hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the second to give the Titans the lead for good.
Sabo also provided the early offensive spark in Game 1 with a three-run home run off Beck that gave Blessed Trinity a 4-0 lead.
“I think they swung the bat well,” Knight said. “Give them credit for that.”
The Titans needed to do that against the three quality pitchers from Jefferson. Beck, Swancey and Jake Fields, who relieved Beck in Game 1, combined for 23 strikeouts and just two walks in the series.
“If you can go out and compete against the three pitchers we saw tonight, it’s gonna do nothing but give us some confidence,” Harlin said.
Blessed Trinity hopes to build on that confidence in the quarterfinals where it will play the winner of the Toombs County/Cook series.
Jefferson’s season is now complete.
BLESSED TRINITY 10, JEFFERSON 8
Blessed Trinity scored four runs in the first inning and never looked back to take Game 1 against Jefferson on Wednesday at Horace J. Jackson Field.
Jamie Sexton led Jefferson at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two solo home runs and a double. Sexton’s second home run led off the bottom of the seventh inning with the Dragons trailing 10-7.
The Dragons rallied in the sixth by sending all nine batters to the plate and scoring three runs off three consecutive walks with the bases loaded and two outs. The rally ended when Blessed Trinity’s Ricky Kleban struck out the next batter to strand the bases loaded for the third time in the game.
Jake Skole led Blessed Trinity going 2-for-4 with a triple, double, stolen base and two RBIs. He also robbed Jason Demos of a would-be base hit in the seventh with a diving catch.
Sabo, Ricky Kleban and Ross Hampton all hit home runs for Blessed Trinity, while Chris Beck hit a two-run home run for Jefferson.