John Milledge bounces back for GISA championship win
The John Milledge Trojans rallied from a late 4-0 deficit and defeated Trinity Christian-Sharpsburg 6-5 in eight innings to win the GISA Class 3A baseball championship Saturday. The series was forced to a third game when Trinity Christian won the second game 2-1 earlier in the day.
In the deciding game, Brandon Bellflower singled in Cole Wilson with the winning run in the eighth with one out to give John Milledge its first GISA baseball championship since 1993.
Five who mattered
Bellflower: The sophomore first baseman did not have a hit in the two games Saturday until he played hero in the eighth. He hit the first pitch he saw between the shortstop and third baseman, and Wilson easily scored the winning run.
Dawson Huff: The senior catcher for John Milledge had a huge three-run double in the sixth to tie the game.
Andrew Prestwood: The John Milledge senior threw 72 pitches in the second game of the series and left with a 1-0 lead, but John Milledge could not put Trinity Christian away as the Lions won the first game in nine innings. But Prestwood came in in relief of starter Peyton Massey and gave the Trojans three solid innings of relief. Prestwood also singled in the pivotal sixth inning.
Michael Young: The Trinity Christian clean-up hitter had three hits in the third game and drove in two runs and helped his team build a 4-0 lead.
Calin Smith: Trinity Christian’s center fielder had three hits in the third game and drove in two runs and made the catch of the day when he made a diving catch of Massey’s liner in the seventh to save Trinity Christian for the time being.
John Milledge was shut down by Charles Fuller for the first five innings with only two hits and no threats to score. But Jared Prestwood, who had three hits in the game, led off the sixth with a single, Tyler Bass reached on an error, and Andrew Prestwood singled to load the bases with no outs. Fuller was removed despite only having thrown 56 pitches in the game, and Huff greeted reliever Hunter Campbell with a line drive to left center field that cleared the bases. Massey deliver another hit, scoring pinch-runner Jacob Prestwood, to give John Milledge a 5-4 lead heading into the seventh.
Trouble coming: Any pitcher in the GISA best-of-three series was allowed 120 pitches, and Andrew Prestwood had only three pitches left if John Milledge would not have ended the game in the eighth.
Taking advantage: Wilson led off the eighth by striking out, but he reached when the pitch got away from the catcher. One batter later, he scored the winning run.
They said it
Bellflower on the game winner: “I just focused on the fundamentals that the coaches had driven into me since January, and I was trying to hit the ball in the middle or to left field. He gave me a good pitch to hit, and I just tried to drive it and luckily the ball found a hole.”
Bellflower on the feeling after the hit: “No way I can describe that feeling. I mean we had worked so hard the entire year to get to this point, and I was just glad to be able to help.”
Andrew Prestwood on the battle Saturday: “I think we were two evenly matched teams that both wanted a state championship. This is just like a fairy tale ending for all of us.”
John Milledge head coach Justin Mills on being down for much of the game: “We just continued to stay positive and make something happen, and I knew that we wouldn’t quit. We put some good at bats together late, and it worked out. Honestly I am at a loss for words about how this team battled.”