CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. — If there's one thing Mike Dunfee demands from his baseball players it's trust, both in him and in each other. That intangible came into play during Gordon Lee's 3-2, 5-0 sweep of Commerce in the first round of the GHSA Class A public school baseball playoffs Friday.
Tied at 2 in the bottom of the seventh inning in game one, the Trojans (21-6) got a leadoff walk from Jake Rogers. Instead of going by the book and calling for a sacrifice bunt, Dunfee had Logan Peterson swing away and the catcher singled to center field. He did the same with the next two batters, and even though neither came through, the trust factor paid off with two outs when Braxton Salmon singled home the winning run.
After starting freshman Chaney Rogers on the mound in game one, Dunfee was able to trot ace Conard Broom to the hill and the junior right-hander pitched five hitless innings, striking out eight.
Gordon Lee will travel to fourth-seeded Miller County for a quarterfinal round series beginning Wednesday.
"We've got a little saying: It's a Trojan T -- toughness, trust, togetherness -- and if we have those things we become a team," Dunfee said. "In that seventh inning I trusted the guys and told them we're not bunting. I trusted them in that inning, and they trusted in each other and got the job done, bottom line.
"In the second game, it was nice to have Conard to put out there. We might change it up next time, but having Conard in game two means either keep us in the series or let's close it out. The kid's been consistent his whole career, and it's a lot of fun watching him throw."
Gordon Lee trailed 2-1 in game one when Jake Rogers tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the fifth, but the Trojans left runners at third and second and then left the bases full in the sixth before mounting the winning rally in the seventh on Salmon's big hit.
"It was on the low-middle, exactly where I like it," Salmon said of the pitch he hit. "This is my first year on varsity, so I was happy to get the opportunity."
The Trojans got an early run in the second in game two when courtesy runner Caleb O'Neal scored on a wild pitch and essentially put the game away with four runs in the fifth. Two singles and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out, and Jake Rogers followed with an RBI infield single. Chaney Rogers scored on a wild pitch and Peterson added a two-run single.
With the lead securely in hand, Dunfee proved to any potential future playoff opponents just how deep the team's pitching is by subbing in Jake Rogers, who fanned five of the six batters he faced.
"It's awesome sweeping the series today, and even if we have to go away we're mentally prepared to go out and get the job done," Broom said after improving to 9-1. "Coach Dunfee thinks it's good strategy to pitch me game two. It really doesn't matter to me; I just like to get the ball in either game. It worked for us last year, so we may stick with it."
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.
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 ...