SANDERSVILLE — Samuel Joiner and his team were so close — one more out to go close — but the work wasn’t finished yet. They all knew it.
So when teammates Garrett Riggs and Austin Archer walked to Joiner, the discussion was short.
“We just said, ‘It’s not over,’?” Joiner said. “It wasn’t over. But we got the job done.”
After the quick chat, Joiner needed only one more pitch to get the final out, finishing a complete-game victory with a fly out as the Brentwood baseball team won its second consecutive GISA Class AA state championship by beating Edmund Burke 3-1 and then 5-1 Saturday afternoon. Brentwood had lost Friday’s Game 1, but with the pressure on, they took two in a row to deny the Spartans’ bid for the program’s second title in three years.
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Brentwood’s Saturday pitchers Joiner and Eric Smith saw only two runs score against their club in 14 innings of work, and errors were needed to help get just those two.
Joiner’s seven innings in Game 3 were a gem, as the sophomore pitched perhaps his best game of the season during a year when he made steady progress.
“From where he came from at the beginning of the season to this point is monumental,” Brentwood coach and Macon native Brannon Bonifay said. “He was basically a JV pitcher at the start of the season. In the playoffs, he stepped it up. His opportunity came and he made the most of it. Every outing has been better and better and better. He just had it all.”
Offensively in the last game, Brentwood got RBI hits from Josh Wolfe, Colton Everett and Nick Pullen and also benefited from four Edmund Burke errors.
A couple hours earlier, Brentwood forced a deciding third game by scoring three in the sixth to rally.
Both pitchers pitched well enough to win, with Spartans starter Drake Collins taking a 1-0 lead into the sixth as Edmund Burke was just six out away from the title.
But Smith singled to start the comeback. Later, a bad throw to third to challenge a runner found no teammate there to catch the ball as tying run scored on the mistake. Pullen then hit a two-RBI single for the last pair of runs.
Edmund Burke never took the lead again for the rest of the series.
“You never have to question their heart or their guts. They give you everything every play, every pitch. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out,” Spartans coach Aaron Phillips said. “I’m so proud of them. I’m proud to be their coach.”