High School Baseball
Trinity storms past Heritage for region win
by Chris Goltermann
Mother Nature continues to tease baseball teams this spring, and she was at it again in Sharpsburg prior to Friday’s game between GISA Region 1-AAA rivals Trinity Christian and The Heritage School while toying with a forecast for potential rain.
But only the host Lions may have found it amusing after storming through a 11-0 victory in five innings.
Umbrellas went up before the first pitch, and within an immediate stoppage, quickly came down as potential storm clouds dissipated and gave way to blue skies — especially for host Trinity.
The Lions found ways to make up their own mistakes while as much taking advantage of six walks and two hit-batsmen in a 10-hit outing that slowly picked up steam en route to an early finish. It was the type of victory first-year head coach Brian Chmielewski has been looking for out of his team all season.
“This is what I’ve been asking from them all year, for us to play a complete game. We saw what the results can be,” Chmielewski said. “Anybody who didn’t believe it before tonight, believes it now.”
Trinity, which improved to 8-4 overall also evened its region record at 2-2. Heritage, meanwhile, fell to 7-3 and 1-1 in region play in a game that slowly got out of hand for the Hawks by the third inning.
“That’s the first time they’ve beaten us. Give them credit,” said Heritage head coach Lynn Huffstickler. “They played well.”
Trinity starting pitcher Cole Elrod allowed an infield single to Brad Macke in the third and little else among five Hawks baserunners, none of which made it to third. Elrod finished with four strikeouts and got some help defensively, including a diving stop by second baseman Seth Davis for a putout after Heritage leadoff hitter Patrick Pitzer had reached on an error two batters earlier.
The Hawks went on to put runners on first and second before Elrod got out of the jam on a fly ball to center.
“We made two errors, but every time we made a mistake, another guy picked us up,” Chmielewski said.
The Lions jumped out for two runs in the first while taking advantage of four consecutive passes including a hit batter, then broke the game open by scoring five times with two outs in the third.
Kyle Head’s bases-loaded double that skimmed off the Macke’s glove during a leaping attempt at the center-field fence was as much a turning point in the five-run third.
After struggling to find the strike zone in the first, Hawks starting pitcher Luke Smith managed to retire five consecutive Trinity batters, and was one out away from heading back to the dugout still down just 2-0.
Instead, the Lions kept the inning alive by staying patient, scoring again without a hit off a plunked batter and three consecutive walks, before Head sent his first pitch to the deepest part of Trinity’s new varsity field.
Lions catcher Tanner Johnson led the offensive effort, reaching base in all four plate appearance with two hits, including a two-run single with the bases loaded that ended the game by mercy rule in the fifth.
Leighton Cannon, Johnson, Josh Henry and Jake Elrod all had singles for Trinity during a two-run rally in the fourth against Heritage reliever Brian McKinney, who was tagged for three runs on seven of the Lions 11 hits. Senior Daniel Shoates also went 1-for-2 for Trinity in the win.
McKinney and Smith combined on seven strikeouts in the loss.
Trinity now has a week to digest the win before returning to action on Monday, April 14 against LaGrange Academy. The Lions and Hawks meet again at Heritage on April 29.
“I wondered how this would affect us so close to spring break,” Chmielewski said. “We’ve got to play these last five games the same way. Don’t stop. Great teams respond from adversity.”
The Hawks — which held an extensive player-only conference in the outfield grass after the loss — limped into spring break hoping to get healthy for the final stretch of region games.
“We’ve been really banged up. Spring break can’t get here fast enough,” said Huffstickler, who was without senior Mack Wilkins among a group of injured players that also included Macke. “That’s no excuse. They just executed better than we did.”
Lions 11, Hawks 0, five innings
Heritage 000 00 — 0 1 0
Trinity 205 22 — 11 10 2
WP — Cole Elrod
LP — Luke Smith