The Bethlehem Christian Academy baseball team took the best attack Crisp Academy could mount and, in the end, the Knights were still standing with the state championship trophy high in the air.
That’s what happens when you are the King of the Mountain in high school athletics. BCA capped another memorable baseball season with another championship Saturday in Cordele. It wasn’t easy, but few expected it to be. And besides, winning a state championship really shouldn’t be an easy thing.
Make no mistake, however, Crisp Academy believed it had the team to dethrone the Knights. And to give credit where credit is due, the Wildcats are a solid team. Crisp Academy has been somewhat of the standard bearer for several years in GISA Class A baseball. However, a new kid moved onto the block a few seasons ago and things haven’t been the same since.
Coach Colby May, in his first season directing any baseball program, now has a state championship on his resume. May, who took over after former championship coach Nick Pou departed, never missed a stride with this year’s Knights. May himself was not that long ago competing for the University of Georgia and clearly has connected with his players, whom he is really not that much older than.
The motto for this season’s team has been “Focus on the process, not the outcome.” For the Knights, each game and even each practice has been part of the process.
Player P.J. Klein said the process began last November, when the BCA pitchers began working in an offseason program which helped prepare them for the 2014 season.
The seeds of this year’s state championship team were actually planted months ago. Even in the early stages of the season, BCA athletic director Mark Barth predicted good things.
“We have a chance to win it all again,” Barth said, asking that I not print that statement at that point in the season. “There could be a couple of schools that could challenge us, but we have the talent to win it all again.”
Barth helped start the baseball program at the school and was an assistant coach last season before deciding to step back and concentrate on his athletic director and basketball coaching duties at the school. Still, you know Barth has a great amount of pride for what the baseball team has accomplished.
The 2014 Knights had several heroes this spring. Players like P.J. Klein, Luke Allen, Jacob Fincher, Brady Stewart, Tanner Still, Ryan Whiting, Jacob Parker, Jacob Walls and others helped provide what BCA needed to be successful.
There were a couple of tough losses along the way. BCA lost to a Class A team for the first time in two years when the Knights lost to Fullington in game two of the quarterfinals. The Knights did manage to rally and win game three of the series.
And in the finals against Crisp Academy, BCA was down a game and in danger of being swept. However, a 7-6 win in game two pushed the series to a third and deciding contest where the Knights had the advantage.
Playing on the road is never an easy task for any team in the playoffs. Calls have a way of going against you. The crowd can seem against you. Even the playing field is unfamiliar as it was for the Knights Friday and Saturday.
Still, when you are the best you find ways to overcome all of that. BCA overcame adversity on the playing field and even off it to bring the state trophy home. Until this spring, the team had never competed in a road playoff series. It has now, posted a 4-1 road playoff mark.
It’s great to see these young men, who have been supported by their parents, fellow students and community, winning at this high level. They have represented themselves and their school well.
I would mention something about next season as the entire roster returns for the Knights. Instead let’s just bask in the state championship spotlight a little longer.
Chris Bridges is sports editor of the Barrow Journal. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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