Memo to all baseball teams who compete in GISA Class A: Bethlehem Christian Academy is the real deal once again this season.
The Knights, who advanced to the Class A state semifinals in their first season of full varsity play last spring, opened the 2013 season Monday by tying defending Class AAA champion Tattnall Square Academy of Macon.
Trailing 3-0 and down to its last at-bat, BCA evened the score on a triple by senior Niko Mailloux in the bottom of the seventh.
The game was called after seven innings due to darkness.
While pleased with the fact his team played the defending state champion two classifications higher, Knights coach Nick Pou was left wondering “what if” after the game.
“We have a lot of work to do, but this was a great start,” Pou said. “We sent a message today. This is the best team in the GISA and we played with them. Actually, I think we were the better team today.”
Senior Jared Martin, a key player in 2012 for Pou’s team, got the start for BCA and worked four innings.
Martin recorded seven strikeouts while allowing just two hits. He did walk four and hit one batter.
Pou said prior to the game that he planned to use several pitchers. PJ Klein worked the fifth and sixth innings and Jordan Fountain pitched the seventh.
Tattnall Square scored all three of its runs in the top of the second inning on just one hit.
Jonathan Ward had an RBI single to right field to drive in the first run of the day. A passed ball on a strikeout of Taylor Ferringer allowed the second run to score. Orlando Mack then grounded out to Mailloux at short stop for the third run.
“Three walks, a passed ball and one hit led to their three runs,” Pou said. “We had chances to score throughout the game. It’s the small stuff that we constantly talk about to our players that make the difference. We made some mistakes today and good teams are going to take advantage of it. We still got the big hit when we needed to. We were able to tie the defending AAA champs who had everyone back.”
Ferringer worked the first four innings for the Trojans before giving way to Cory Bartholomew.
BCA had base runners in the second, third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings. The Knights finally were able to break through on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh.
Ramon Rivera had a leadoff single followed by a single by Luke Allen, giving BCA runners at first and second with no outs. Klein was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. After Bartholomew recorded two strikeouts, Mailloux hammered a triple over the left fielder to clear the bases. The Knights, however, were unable to get the winning run across.
As soon as the seventh inning was over, the home plate umpire conferred with Pou and TSA coach Joey Hiller and the game was called. When the two teams meet again March 21 in Macon, the game will resume in the top of the eighth inning.
Monday was the first game of the 2013 season for both teams.
“We both had been working about seven days,” Pou said. “They are well coached. There is a reason they won state. Today was a playoff atmosphere. I don’t think our players were intimidated. They’ve known for a while who we were going to play today. You had two good teams going at it.”
The BCA Knights will travel to St. Simons for three games this weekend. BCA will play Windsor, a Class AA power, Friday at 3 p.m. before playing games against Citizens Christian and Robert Toombs beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The games will be played at Frederica Academy.