Photo credit: Savannah Morning News
It was a historic night for Coach Carl Carter and his dynamic Raider Baseball team at the historic Grayson Stadium. The Raiders swept a best out of three series with Tatnall Square Academy to capture the school’s first GHSA state title to add to the 1979 SEAIS State baseball title, ironically won against the same Trojans from Tatnall Square Academy. Undefeated through the playoff season and the winners of the Region 3-A, the Raiders had an amazing season.
Dennis Knight at Savannah Morning News had a great recap of the winning series.
STATE CHAMPION: Savannah Christian baseball team sweeps Tattnall Square for Class A Private crown
It was a fitting way to end an unforgettable season for the Savannah Christian baseball team. With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning of a 4-4 tie with Tattnall Square, sophomore Jarrett Brown ripped a shot down the left-field line to score James Portzer for the 5-4 walk-off win Friday at Grayson Stadium.
Savannah Christian won the first game 5-2 and swept the series to capture the Class A Private state crown, the first GHSA baseball title in school history.
The Raiders closed out the season on an 18-game win streak and finished the year at 34-3. After the game, the players talked about how important it was to win one for coach Carl Carter, who had led the program to eight Final Four appearances before finally reaching the finals this season. Carter said the win was dedicated to his mentor, Doyle Kelley, the longtime SCPS coach, teacher and athletic director who died in October.
“I’m giving the ball to coach Kelley’s wife, Bo,” said Carter, who has coached the Raiders for 29 years. “He always told me he would trade his state titles to get one for me. I feel like he has been with me since he passed, and this is for him and our boys. They have had an unbelievable season. I don’t know how many games we have won by one run, or in our last at-bat. These guys always come back, and they never give up.”
Brown was 2 for 4 in the first game with a pair of RBI, but he saved his best for when it counted most, as the star shortstop delivered in the clutch.
“Of course I felt a little nervous, but I stepped out of the box and took a deep breath,” Brown said. “This is the best feeling; all of our hard work has paid off. And we have a lot coming back next year. I think we have a good chance to do it again.”
Zack Brockman went the distance in the first game – striking out seven, walking three and scattering five hits as he improved to 13-1 on the season. The Liberty University-bound senior was nearing his pitch limit of 120 when he struck out No. 3 hitter Logan Simmons, a junior who has committed to Georgia Tech, to end the game. Brockman finished at 114 pitches.
Freshman Kyle Hilton had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning of the second game when the Trojans rallied for four runs to tie the score. But he struck out the side in the seventh and earned the win to improve to 12-0 on the year with a complete-game two-hitter.
“Tattnall Square is a great team with some great hitters, and for Zack to hold them under three runs was incredible,” said Chris Dettling, the senior catcher who caught all 14 innings. “Kyle had a rough patch in the sixth, but he came back strong.
“We’ve been to three straight Elite Eights, so to go out with a bang like this as seniors is something we’ll never forget.”
Senior Ben Jackson made a pair of incredible diving catches in center field and was 2 for 7 on the day with an RBI single that ignited a three-run fifth inning in the first game.
“We won this for ourselves, but we really wanted to win it for coach Carter,” said Jackson, who will play at East Tennessee State. “He has been the best friend and the best coach I could ask for. This is a dream come true to win state for him in our senior year. Tattnall Square is a great ballclub, and we knew they would give us a fight.”
In the second game, SCPS scored four times in the fifth inning. Hilton drove in a run on a bunt, and Jackson laid down a bunt single, with a throwing error allowing two more to score. Drew Malphrus lifted a fly ball to right that was misplayed for another run-scoring error as SCPS went up 4-0.
Game 1 heroics
Savannah Christian was the visitor in Game 1. Tattnall Square took the early lead when Garrett Houston drew a rare walk from Brockman to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Houston eventually scored on an RBI single by Logan Fink.
SCPS tied it up in the second frame. Brockman led off with a walk and Brown and Malphrus loaded the bases with back-to-back singles. Cam Crosby had a great at-bat, battling in a two-strike count and lifting a sacrifice fly to left to score Brockman to tie it up 1-1.
Justin Anderson led off the third with a double to right and made a heads-up play, stealing third when Trojan third baseman Luke Laskey moved up to play a potential bunt. Anderson scored on Hilton’s groundout.
The Raiders scored three in the fifth. Jackson had an RBI single to center to score Bryce O’Brien, who led off with a walk. Brown delivered with a two-out line shot to right, scoring a pair as Jackson came sliding home just ahead of the throw from right field to make it 5-1.
Brockman helped his own cause with a heads-up play in the bottom of the fourth. With two out, the Trojans’ Mikey Wilson singled to right, and Destin Mack tried to go from first to third. The throw got away, but Brockman was there to back it up – and he fired home to catcher Dettling to get a sliding Mack out at the plate to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth of game one, Simmons smoked a sinking liner to center field, and Jackson came barreling in to make a spectacular diving catch. Tyler Warnock scored on the sacrifice fly, but the catch prevented what could have been an inside-the-park, three-run homer.
Savannah Christian had one other state title coming in 1979 when they played in the Southeastern Association of Independent Schools. Mike Thompson, who coached that team, was at the game Friday.
But this win was a special one for a team that was known for its scrappy, never-say-die attitude.
“This is unbelievable,” said Brockman, who was the Savannah Morning News Baseball Player of the Year. “We’ve been working since last June and this finally ended our so-called quest. Tattnall was one of the best-hitting teams we have faced, but we kept them off balance with our pitching. And we played great defense like we have been doing all year long. Jackson had those two diving catches in center, and Jarrett (Brown) had another amazing play behind second. It was a great way to end the year.”