Whether or not he wants the responsibility, the staff ace for Tattnall Square baseball carries a burden on his shoulders.
During the past 14 years, the Trojans have been blessed with a throng of high-quality starting pitchers, including a number of college signees and two players taken in the first 15 rounds of the Major League Baseball draft.
“You expect a lot out of Tattnall’s No. 1 starter,” senior catcher Tyler Ward said. “It has always been that way.”
Taylor Ferringer surpassed those expectations.
Ferringer, The Telegraph All-Middle Georgia GISA Player of the Year, was downright dominant in helping lead the Trojans to their second straight championship and their seventh since 2000.
The junior didn’t allow an earned run in 31 postseason innings, and he closed the season with 37 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. He finished the season 10-3 with a 0.64 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 87-2/3 innings.
“He deserves to be mentioned with all of the (great Tattnall starters),” senior third baseman Grayson Brown said. “He was outstanding all year.”
Despite entering the playoffs with a 0.99 ERA, Ferringer was just 5-3 on the mound in the regular season.
Errors helped contribute to his three loses. He allowed three earned runs total in the losses to Mount de Sales, Baker County and Westfield. He never allowed more than two earned runs in a game all season.
Ferringer’s dominance began in the opening series of the playoffs.
He pitched two hitless innings in Game 1 of the playoff opener against John Milledge before head coach Joey Hiller removed him in a blowout. Because Tattnall won via run rule, Hiller sent Ferringer back out in Game 2 later in the evening. Ferringer pitched six more scoreless innings in another win, and his two appearances in the series foreshadowed his heroics to come.
Tattnall could only get one appearance out of Ferringer in the second-round series at Tiftarea. He struck out eight in a complete-game win on the road, allowing one unearned run in the victory.
Ferringer just kept getting better as the playoffs progressed.
He tossed a four-hit shutout against Mount de Sales in Game 1 of the state semifinals, and Hiller called him back in Game 2 to nail down his first save of the season.
“He just pitched so well in every series,” Hiller said. “Everybody had complete confidence in him every time he stepped on the mound.”
Ferringer saved his best game for the championship series against Deerfield-Windsor.
The right-hander struck out a season-high 13 in a complete-game, two-hit shutout.
“He’s got really good stuff, and when he’s throwing strikes and has good command, he’s really tough to beat,” Hiller said following the Game 1 performance. “He’s got five outstanding pitches. When he’s on with three of them, he’s really good. When he’s on with four of them, it’s a whole new league. Sometimes he’s on with all five, and you should see that.
“It’s a really good performance. It was outstanding.”
Just like in the Mount de Sales series, Hiller called on Ferringer in Game 2 in a save situation. With a runner on first and no outs in a one-run game, Ferringer shut the door on Deerfield to clinch the state championship.
“It means a lot that (Hiller) has the confidence in me to call on me in those situations,” Ferringer said. “It’s really a confidence boost for me, too.”