Tattnall Square baseball usually equals championships

jheeter@macon.comJune 1, 2013 

I don’t know if a specific set of guidelines exist for how Tattnall Square baseball is supposed to be played.

I’ve watched enough Tattnall baseball through the years, however, to have a pretty good idea of the “Trojan Way,” whether or not those rules are explicit.

And all of the positive tenets of Trojans baseball were on display throughout the GISA Class AAA championship series against Deerfield-Windsor that began Friday. The Trojans won Game 1, 2-0, and they completed the series sweep with a 4-3 win Saturday to win their second straight state title.

The Trojans’ championship teams always seem buoyed by an ace on the mound.

The No. 1 pitchers are known by their last names around campus.

Spillers. Loosier. Gordon. Granade. Crabtree. Hobby. Smelter. Brooks. Alford.

And now Ferringer.

Taylor Ferringer, a junior, was nearly unhittable during the championship series. He struck out 13 in Game 1 while allowing just two hits and three base runners in the complete-game effort. In Game 2, Ferringer entered the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with a runner on first and no outs. He shut the door on the Knights, picking up his second series-clinching save of the postseason.

“He deserves to be mentioned with all of those guys,” Tattnall senior Grayson Brown said. “He was outstanding all year, and he did it again this weekend.”

These title runs have also been dotted by the play of seniors, who have accepted they are supposed to play championship-caliber baseball.

Sometimes, that means the most high-profile player on the team delivers on expectations placed on him.

Tyler Ward, Tattnall’s hulking senior catcher, ripped a ball through the sky for a solo home run Saturday in the third inning. It was Ward’s 10th homer of the season.

Cole Gaylord, Tattnall’s other two-year senior starter, knocked in the game-winning run on a double in the top of the fifth inning.

Other times, the seniors who have waited their turn for a shot to contribute on the field during a title run step up in crucial moments.

Brown and Orlando Mack both played some during Tattnall’s title run in 2012, but both were largely used in specialist roles. Brown played third last year but didn’t hit every game, and Mack was used most often as a pinch runner. The coaching staff asked more of both this year, with Brown staying at third, pitching some and falling either fourth or fifth in the batting order. Mack patrolled center field nearly every game, and only Ward and Brown played in as many games throughout the season.

The two rose to the occasion Saturday.

Brown knocked in the Trojans’ first run to give his team the early lead.

Mack hit a leadoff double in the fifth and eventually scored the game-winning run on Gaylord’s double. Mack’s biggest play, however, came in the field, when he leaped to steal a three-run homer from Weston King in the fourth inning. It was the second time this year Mack robbed the Knights of a home run.

“Last year, I didn’t play much, but it felt great to win a championship,” Mack said. “But it feels even better knowing you played a bigger role.”

The constant, of course, is head coach Joey Hiller, who has led the Trojans to their seven championships in the past 14 years.

Hiller’s Trojans are fundamentally sound, and they are exceptional at things like small ball -- Tattnall is probably as good as any other Middle Georgia program, public or private, at putting pressure on the defense.

But Hiller’s greatest contribution might be creating a mentality that his players believe in.

Hiller gets his players to embrace their roles on the team, whether it is the star pitcher or slugging catcher, or the freshman who comes in to pinch run. Hiller gets the most out of his players, pushing average players to become good ones and good ones to become great ones.

Tattnall players all seem to buy into what Hiller is selling, and the proof is obvious. The “Trojan Way” has produced seven rings since 2000.

Contact Jonathan Heeter at 744-4400 or jheeter@macon.com.

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