(photo by Through An Angel's Eyes)
By John Ayers
The Trenton Tigers earned the 2017 1A Baseball Crown on Thursday as they defeated Madison County 3-2 at Century Link Sports Park on Hammond Field, the spring training home to the Milwaukee Brewers in Ft. Myers. The Tigers advanced to the championship game after stumping Sneads 10-0 in 6 innings behind a masterful commanding performance by Trent Simmons as he earned the win for the 26-1 Tigers. Madison defeated South Walton 4-3 on Wednesday afternoon in order to meet the No. 1 ranked Tigers in the 1A showdown for the title.
On Thursday afternoon, Trenton’s junior pitcher, Landon Kennedy threw a complete game striking out three Cowboy batters while allowing 5 hits, 2 runs and 2 walks in the victory.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning as Michael Smith stole third base and the Cowboys’ catcher threw the ball down the line and it went over the third baseman’s glove. Smith simply made the turn at third as he put the Tigers on the scoreboard.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Madison tied the game as J Mitchell scored from third base on a single. With two outs the Cowboys took a 2-1 lead, as Madison was able to score their second and last run of this championship game.
In the top of the fifth inning, Trenton with one out and a runner on first, Jacob Guthrie laid down a bunt that put runners on the corners. Daniel Plank drew a walk which loaded the bases with speedy Tigers. The Cowboys showed signs of melting under the pressure as two consecutive passed balls allowed Wesley White and Guthrie to score to give Trenton a 3-2 lead.
Coach Adam Burton pointed out that the Tigers had run all year when the opportunity arises. “We’re fast and our style of baseball places a lot of pressure on the defense,” the head coach explained.
Kennedy and the Tigers’ defense held off the Madison County threat as the game ended with base runners left on as the batter grounded out to Kennedy for the win.
“It was nerve-wracking, but Coach Burton told the team before the game to finish every pitch,” Kennedy explained. “We knew we had it in us to come back and score on them,” the starting pitcher explained.
The Tigers faced Madison County’s D Herring for 4.2 inning as they hammered 7 hits scoring 3 runs, (2 earned) while forcing five walks. Madison got relief from D Lawson in the fifth as he finished the game for the runner-up Cowboys with one strike out. The Tigers’ Randy Fuller hit 2 for 4, Zachary Hardee and Colton Rucker each hit 1 for 2 and Chase Malloy, Wyatt Langford, and Jacob Guthrie all hit 1 for 3 in the championship game.
The Tigers finished the championship season with a 27-1 record. Coach Burton explained, “It’s an incredible feeling. This team has worked so hard to get here today and I am so proud that we won it,” Burton added.
On Wednesday morning the Tigers got an early start as they began the semi-final game at 10 a.m. facing the Sneads Pirates. The West Florida Region 2 winner came into the final four with a 14-11 record. Trenton’s Trent Simmons faced 25 batters in six innings as he struck out 6, allowed 2 hits and 3 walks. The senior right-handed pitcher has signed with Hillsborough Community College in Tampa.
The Tigers and Pirates were scoreless through the third inning. Trenton scored 7 runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and added 3 in the sixth inning to advance to the championship game. The Tigers forced 5 errors by the Pirates’ defense.
The Tigers got 9 hits in this game. Trenton shelled Kade Chatwood for 5 hits scoring 7, (1 earned run) with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts through four innings. Colton Mercer picked up in the fifth inning as he went 1.2 innings allowing 4 hits, 3 earned runs and 1 walk. The Pirates ended their season with a 14-12 record.
The Tiger fans lined the streets of Trenton on Friday at noon to cheer and honor their 2017 Tiger baseball state champs. The Tiger team thanks the community for all the support they have shown the Trenton Tiger baseball team throughout the 2017 season.