Amite puts away surging Trinity Episcopal to claim district championship

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 20, 2003

LIBERTY &045; Those Trinity Episcopal Saints may be getting used to the regime by now, but there’s never a surprise about their surprise run late in the season.

There’s always skeptics.

So even though the Saints lost a 10-9 decision to Amite School Center for the championship in what turned out to be a strange day at the District 7-1A tournament, the Saints opened with a 9-8 win over Pine Hills to at least clinch a playoff spot.

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The team that was almost cast off for dead will face Riverdale in the opener of a best-of-three playoff series Tuesday.

&uot;We gave it a complete effort, but I guarantee you nobody thought we’d be here right now,&uot; Trinity second baseman Gregory Ketchings said. &uot;We came back and won the first game, and we’ll get it going. It’s just repetition. We were kind of stuck in basketball season (at the beginning). We’re coming around now.&uot;

The new-and-improved Saints were on the verge of knocking off the much-favored Rebels in the final that would have forced a second game &045; three in one day for Trinity. The Rebels struck gold in the middle innings, brought in ace Robert Young and got a littler tapper in the seventh with the bases loaded to score the winning run.

On a day where balls were getting slapped all over the field, dropped at the right and wrong times and just doing funny things, the Saints came up short.

&uot;We did not get the breaks,&uot; Trinity head coach Jeremy Loy said. &uot;That’s the bottom line. When we’ve played here, they’ve always fallen the other way. Our kids fought back. We’re playing really aggressive ball at the plate. I feel like there’s not a sure out in our lineup, and that’s a feeling I didn’t have at the beginning of the season.&uot;

The Saints squandered a four-run lead but then erased a two-run deficit in top of the seventh to tie the score a 9-9 heading into bottom half. There Dean Lewis reached on an error, and the Saints elected to intentionally walk Young &045; the fourth time in the game &045; to put Brett Malone up with runners at first and second with no outs.

Malone laid down a bunt single to load the bases, and Austin Bean’s slow roller down the third base line stayed fair as Trinity pitcher Brandon Geter waited for it to do so.

&uot;Our kids work hard in district games, and they enjoy the games against Trinity,&uot; ASC head coach Steven Cooksey said. &uot;They wouldn’t pitch to Robert tonight, and he’s been hitting the ball well for us. When they put him on, we felt like we had a chance to score the run. We hope he continues to lead this team, but we still consider it a team victory.&uot;

The runs spoiled the Saints’ comeback in the top half after they came in trailing 9-7. Sam Couvillion walked to load the bases, and Zach Rogel reached on an error before Couvillion scored on a Kyle Dunaway groundout to cut it to one.

Ketchings then singled through the left side with two outs to score Rogel.

&uot;They’ve got a couple of players I respect, and I probably shouldn’t have put (Young) on at the end,&uot; Loy said. &uot;He’s hit some home runs on us.&uot;

But what spurred the Rebels on most was a controversial three-run homer from leadoff hitter Jeremy Perkins in the fifth after the Saints had taken a 7-3 lead. Perkins had two runners on when he just blasted one to left field that was slicing fast.

The home plate umpire ruled it wrapped around the foul pole for a three-run shot to tie the game at 7-7.

&uot;It looked foul by six or seven feet to me,&uot; Loy said. &uot;They said it curved around the foul pole, but the way I saw it it went left of the foul pole. It was a judgment call by the umpire. But we should have never been in that situation in the first place. We had an error before that, and good teams will get you when you make errors. They made us pay.&uot;

The Saints scored six in the fifth off starter Taylor Knapp and Young to take the four-run lead. Ketchings and Andy Moon scored on errors, and Stevan Ridley doubled a run home. Dunaway singled in Ridley.

The Rebels got a run from Bean top start off the fifth before Tyler Crawford reached on an error. Josh Wells struck out on what could have been the third out, but instead Perkins came up and smacked the three-run homer.

&uot;Jeremy has made some big plays for us,&uot; Cooksey said. &uot;I would say the home run really turned the game around for us and gave us an opportunity to get back in it. We were sort of set in for the long night if we had to.&uot;