ROSWELL – The champs had to work for it.
The Blessed Trinity Titans have won two consecutive state championships, and they’re the favorite to make it three in a row this spring.
Blessed Trinty had its hands full with the visiting Callaway Cavaliers on Wednesday in the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs, though.
The Titans found themselves locked into two competitive games, but as they’ve done consistently over the past three seasons, they found a way to be the team standing at the end.
After opening the series with a 2-0 victory in the first game, Blessed Trinity finished off the sweep with a 5-2 win.
In the first game, the Cavaliers had the go-ahead run on base in the seventh inning, but they were unable to break through.
In the second game, Callaway scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to get within three, and the tying run was at the plate when the final out was recorded.
“We played well against those guys,” Callaway head coach Dusty Hubbard said. “We stood toe-to-toe with them. If we’d caught a couple of breaks here and there, it’s a different game. But that’s why they’re two-time defending state champions. They make the plays when they need to.”
It was the conclusion of a successful season for the Cavaliers (15-14), who finished third in Region 5-AAA before beating Hart County in a first-round series to set up the second-round showdown with Blessed Trinity.
“I thought we played about as good as we were capable, and we got better at the end of the year,” Hubbard said.
Here’s a recap of each of Wednesday’s games.
BLESSED TRINITY 2
The Cavaliers made things interesting at the end.
Through six innings, the Cavaliers had been held hitless against Hayden Lehman, but they put something together in their final at-bat.
The Cavaliers had two hits and a walk to load the bases with one out in the top of the seventh, but Lehman got a fielder’s choice and a flyout to end the inning, and the game.
As good as Lehman was, he was nearly matched by Callaway’s Josh Hanson, who was superb.
The right-handed Hanson threw a six-inning complete game, and he gave up six hits and two runs.
After Blessed Trinity broke through for two runs in the third inning, it only had one base runner the rest of the way.
“Josh did a great job in that first game,” Hubbard said.
Blessed Trinity manufactured its two runs in the third inning.
David Dunn had a bunt single leading off, and Jake Landkovsky reached on an error on a bunt of his own to put runners on first and second.
Cj Abrams followed with a double to bring in the game’s first run, and Jake Bogosian had an RBI groundout to make it a 2-0 game.
With the bases loaded and one out, Callaway turned a double play on a bunt that was popped up to get out of the inning with no further damage.
Lehman was cruising along, although Callaway’s Cortney Laye Laye did give him a scare in the fifth inning when he hit a flyball to the center-field fence.
In that same inning, Javoski Leverette became the Cavaliers’ first base runner when he walked with two outs, but the no-hitter and shutout remained intact heading to the sixth inning.
Finally in the seventh inning, Callaway’s offense came to life.
Dylan Johnson led off with a solid single to end Lehman’s no-hit bid, and Hunter Rollins followed with a base hit of his own, and the Cavaliers were in business.
Noah Hammett got a sacrifice bunt down to put men on second and third, and Ty McCann walked to loaded the bases with one out.
“You can’t ask for much more,” Hubbard said. “You’ve got the bases loaded with one out with a chance to tie the game, and your five, six hitters coming up. We grinded out some at-bats, and gave ourselves a good chance to win there.”
Lehman was up to the challenge, though.
The third baseman fielded a grounder off the bat of Laye, and he went home for the forceout.
With the bases still loaded, Leverette hit the ball hard to center field, but it was held up by the wind, and it was caught for the third out.
BLESSED TRINITY 5
For the second straight game, the Cavaliers made some noise in the final inning, but it was the Titans prevailing once again.
Rollins had an RBI groundout in the seventh inning, Devin Brock scored on a wild pitch after walking, and the Cavaliers had the tying run at the plate.
Blessed Trinity relief pitcher Cole McNamee got a strikeout to end the game, though, and bring Callaway’s season to a close.
The Titans scored four of their runs in the top of the third inning.
Bogosian knocked two of those runs in with a double, Abrams had an RBI single, and Garret Dupuis had a sacrifice fly.
The Titans capped their scoring in the fifth inning, with a run coming home when Dupuis reached on an error.
Dylan Johnson, who came into the game with one out in the fifth inning in relief of Hunter Rollins, got out of the inning without anymore runs scoring, but the Cavaliers still trailed 5-0.
Thanks to the good work of Johnson, who was terrific during his 2 2/3 innings, the deficit was still five when the Cavaliers came up in the bottom of the seventh.
Xavier Smith was hit by a pitch leading off, and with one out, Devin Brock and Johnson reached on back-to-back walks, and the bases were full with one out.
Rollins grounded out to bring in pinch-runner Dre Martin, and for the first time all day, the Cavaliers had a run on the board.
With runners on second and third, Noah Hammett struck out, but he reached first on a wild pitch, and Brock scored on the play to make it a 5-2 game.
With runners on first and third, Callaway’s hopes were extinguished when McNamee got the game-ending strikeout.
Callaway had a great chance to break through in the fifth inning when it loaded the bases with no outs.
Smith walked, and Brandon Boddie and Brock had back-to-back singles to put a Cavalier at every base.
On the next play, Johnson hit the ball on the ground, and the throw went to second for the forceout, and it appeared as if the Cavaliers had scored a run to get within four.
One of the umpires ruled that Boddie’s slide into second base was illegal, though, and the run was disallowed, and Blessed Trinity was awarded a double play and Smith was called back to third.
John Michael Bertrand got a groundout to end the inning, and Blessed Trinity still led 5-0.
Hubbard disagreed with the umpire’s call and he argued his point, but to no avail.
“It kind of takes the life out of you,” Hubbard said of the momentum-changing call. “But I was of proud of our kids for making a run there at the end.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports