GHSA Class A Public School Final
CHARLTON COUNTY 3, GORDON LEE 1 (8)
Charlton County - 000 - 010 - 02 -- 3 - 6 - 1
Gordon Lee - 001 - 000 - 00 -- 1 - 5 - 2
WP: Jesse King, CG, 5 Ks. LP: Jake Rogers, 1 IP, 0 ER. HR: Scott Beasley (CC). 2B: Will Gowan, Ryan Young (CC). Other highlights: Conard Broom, 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 hits, 6 Ks; Adam Vandiver 2 hits; Tanner Sexton RBI (GL). Records: Charlton County 31-3; Gordon Lee 30-4.
FOLKSTON, Ga. — It took three days and 22 innings to decide a GHSA Class A public school baseball champion, and when the final out was recorded Monday, both sides were singing the praises of the other.
Charlton County scored two unearned runs in the eighth inning to defeat visiting Gordon Lee 3-1 in a game highlighted by elite pitching performances. Charlton's Jesse King baffled the Trojans with an assortment of nearly underhanded pitches. He went all eight innings and allowed only five hits from a team averaging 10 runs a game.
On the other side was Gordon Lee sophomore Conard Broom, who went the distance for a win in game two of the best-of-three series Saturday. After an off day, Broom -- at his own request -- took the ball Monday and went seven innings of four-hit, one-run pitching.
"He wanted the ball and I was not going to tell him no," Gordon Lee coach Mike Dunfee said of Broom. "He had seven innings in him and was terrific. Hey, it was a great series. They're a deserving champion, so you just tip your hat to them."
When Dunfee put junior Jake Rogers on the mound to start the eighth inning, a loud cheer arose from the huge collection of Charlton fans. Rogers got the first out but hit Jacob Baxter, who then moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt. Hot-hitting L.J. Talley then hit a line drive up the middle that skipped past shortstop Cody Wilson for the go-ahead run.
Another error kept the inning alive and Richard Dasher made the Trojans -- who had played errorless ball until then -- pay dearly with an RBI single for a 3-1 lead.
"That was a tough play," Dunfee said of Talley's smash. "That kid hit it hard and it got on Cody quickly. He tried to move to keep it in front of him, and it skipped the other way."
King made the lead stand up, but not before a little drama. Gordon Lee's Bay Wright singled with one out, and Bryce Bailey walked. Rogers then hit a soft liner to center that Josh Crosby nearly let get past him. He had to leap at the last moment to snare the ball. King then got Branton Phillips to hit into a force play to end the game.
"We were reaching all day," Dunfee said of King's slow offerings. "We had a few good at-bats, but we just couldn't put them together. I'm not making excuses, but to be stuck in a hotel for three days and to come out and play like we did, we aren't going to hang our heads. The kids played as hard as they could."
Charlton coach Thad Marchman echoed those thoughts and was effusive in his praise for his pitcher and the losing team.
"He was a starter for us a freshman, and he pitched in the playoffs for us," he said of King. "As a sophomore he had a broken hand and was out all year, but this year he's now 8-0 for us. We had confidence in him, but we were worried about Gordon Lee's bats. We were hoping he would hold them, honestly, to five or six runs and that we could score a bunch.
"We thought we could hit their guy, but he's a fantastic pitcher. We tip our hat to him."
Broom, though disappointed with the outcome, left the field proud.
"It was pretty challenging today," he said. "My arm felt all right coming in, but I was starting to get tired in the later innings. Coach knows I can pitch a lot, and it was a good feeling knowing I was going to get the ball. I've just got that feeling in me right now. It's a bad feeling to lose in game three of the championship, but it just makes me hungrier to come back next year and win it all."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...