Trojans looking to avenge early exit from 2009

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

LEESBURG -- Nobody was happy in the Lee County baseball program a year ago in May.

After a 23-2 regular season, and a No. 1 ranking for parts of the year in Class AAAA, the first round of the state playoffs saw the top-seed Trojans upset by fourth-seeded Glynn Academy.

"We thought we had it won already because we were the one seed and we had only lost twice all year," Trojans senior Matthew Suggs said. "I was pretty disappointed. I worked my butt off in the offseason. Everybody did."

Apparently, they want to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The only difference is, there's a good chance Lee County (19-7) won't be the No. 1 seed out of Region 1-AAAA when the state playoffs roll around next week.

The Trojans, the No. 1 seed from Region 1S-AAAA, will face Upson-Lee, the No. 4 seed from Region 1N-AAAA in a best-of-three region playoff starting with today's doubleheader at 5 p.m. Lee must win to make the playoffs and then wait to see how Jones County fares in its region playoff against Americus-Sumter.

If Americus finds a way to upend the top seed from the north subregion, Lee County would find itself as the top seed in the state playoffs again if it gets past Upson-Lee. A Jones County win would send the Trojans to the two seed at state, due to the Greyhounds' seventh-inning comeback win over Lee earlier in the year.

Either way, Lee County needs to take care of business against Upson-Lee at home, a team it beat, 7-1, on the road earlier in the year.

Sophomore Jess Posey, who will pitch Game 1 today, threw a two-hitter in the two teams' first meeting. The Trojans' pitching has been its strength most of the season, en route to a 7-2 subregion record.

"We've had good pitching all year," Trojans coach Rob Williams said. "Posey and Suggs have stepped up on the mound and given us quality starts."

And that's just two of the arms Lee can throw. Add in junior Phillip Anderson and senior Justin McCalvin with quality relievers like Cole Goodwin and Chase Burnfin, and you've got a recipe for playoff success.

"We feel like we have six or seven guys we can run out there," Williams said.

The Trojans' bats have come around lately, too. Suggs said his average from the leadoff spot is up nearly 150 points in the last two weeks, which has been a catalyst for more run production.

"It's come from different people and that's what you've got to have," Williams said.

For instance, Lee's nine-hole hitter Taylor Jordan, whose grand slam and seven RBI led to a key win over Bainbridge recently. Jordan had eight RBI in the doubleheader against Bainbridge after entering the day with just three RBI all season.

The Trojans will miss second baseman Chase Patrick, who suffered a shoulder injury two weeks ago that will keep him out the rest of the season. Goodwin and McCalvin have rotated at second to fill the void.

A split today against Upson-Lee would force Game 3, which would be played at 1 p.m. Saturday. Either Anderson or Suggs would likely pitch Game 2.

In other Region 1-AAAA play, Thomas County Central will travel to Hardaway, while Bainbridge will host Harris County.