The Houston County High School Bears concluded a magical season at 29-7 overall by defeating the Whitewater High School Wildcats in the three-game GHSA Class AAAAA title series to claim their first state baseball championship last week.
Senior Hunt Smiths grand slam over the right field wall in the series finale culminated a fourth-inning outburst that saw the Bears score six runs as they erased a 4-1 deficit. Fellow senior Justin Jones would go on to pick up the victory as the Houston County players mobbed him on the pitchers mound after the final out.
The win proved to be redemption for Jones, who took the 8-6 loss on a walk-off three-run homer by Whitewaters Taylor Turner in Game One. Houston County was cruising in that contest up 5-1 late before the Wildcats knotted the score. Jake Fromms base hit gave Houston County a one-run lead in the seventh, but it didnt stand as Turners controversial home run was ruled fair down the line.
Bears head coach Jason Brett was visibly upset and left fielder Josh Profit signaled foul ball immediately, but the call would stand.
Disappointment carried over early into Game Two with Houston County digging a 6-0 hole for itself.
The Bears finally got on the board in the third inning as they put up five runs. Andy Moores three-run shot was the big blow as Houston County drew within a run. They would tie it an inning later on a Blake Jackson solo homer.
Neither team would score to end regulation as the game went to extra innings.
Whitewater took a 7-6 lead in the top of the ninth, but they couldnt hold it. Wildcat pitching walked four straight Bears to start the bottom half of the inning to tie the game, and Jones delivered a line drive to left just one batter later that scored Avery Anderson and forced Game Three.
Tanner Hall got the win in Game Two, working 7-2/3 innings in relief and surrendering just one earned run.
History will fondly remember this Houston County team as a resilient bunch with an offense potent enough to erase any deficit.
The Bears also trailed in both of their semifinal victories over No. 1 ranked Gainesville.
The championship is the first state crown in any boys sport in the 23-year history of Houston County High. Its also the first baseball state championship for any county school since Perry in 1991.