Calvary Christian baseball wins 2nd straight state title
The Calvary Christian School baseball team has won its second straight Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association state championship.
The Knights dominated the best-of-three Division I-AA final series at home against Johnson Ferry Christian Academy of Marietta by sweeping Friday’s doubleheader 10-3 and 15-1.
“We talked about this all year long, that winning a state championship is very hard, but back-to-back is much harder,” said Calvary head coach Steve Smith, in his sixth year guiding the program. “Everybody is trying to knock you off. There’s no hiding or trying to sneak up on someone. … It just speaks to their perseverance and work ethic all year long.”
In Game 1, the Knights led by only one run after five innings, but they exploded for eight runs in the sixth.
The game’s leading hitters for Calvary, which totaled 10 hits, were sophomore Jesse Donohue (2-for-4, 3 RBI, home run, triple) and sophomore Caden Shirah (2-for-3, 2 RBI).
Nick Morgan, another sophomore, earned the pitching victory. In six innings, he allowed one unearned run on six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts.
In Game 2, the Knights remained in control as they jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first two innings, then scored eight more runs in the last two innings.
Calvary collected 15 hits in the game, led by Morgan (3-for-5, 2 RBI), Donohue (2-for-5, 3 RBI, home run), senior Stephen Smith (2-for-3, 2 RBI) and junior Peyton Holloway (2-for-5, 2 RBI).
Zachary Garcia, a senior, pitched a complete-game victory. In seven innings, he allowed one run on five hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.
Garcia, who will try to walk on at Mercer, said, “Going through this program for five years and just going through all the tough workouts and seeing the results is just amazing. It’s a fun time with all my teammates and a great way to celebrate.”
The Knights knifed through the eight-team state tournament like butter. They swept all three of their series by a combined score of 65-11. The narrowest margin of victory was five runs. They finished 32-7 — a record number of wins for the program.
Smith noted playing non-region teams from larger schools and outside the GICAA helped raise his players’ performance. And so did their year-round commitment to workouts, on their own or as a team.
“It’s exciting to see the boys put in the work and come out on the other side with another championship,” Smith said.
Garcia credits Smith for setting the tone.
“He’s always at the field,” Garcia said. “If you need anything, he’s always trying to get players to the next level. He’s been able to push me and help me. He just runs the program very well. He’s changed Calvary baseball for the better.”
Garcia explained how.
“He likes to get his stuff done the way he wants,” Garcia said. “He makes sure we all get our work done. He knows the process, so he makes sure we keep focused.”