FREDERICK -- The Classical Academy came out of a lightning delay Friday and gave itself a nice cushion against Faith Christian, then watched it nearly disappear in a 5-4 victory in the 3A State Baseball Championships.
“We always make it interesting,” starting pitcher Vinny Miller said. “At the last minute, we always come through.”
The Titans are hoping that policy stands Saturday, when they need to hand tournament No. 2 seed Eaton its second and third losses of the season in a doubleheader. That tall order would allow them to make off with the 3A championship.
Eaton downed TCA on Sunday, coming back twice from deficits of three runs or more. With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning, TCA senior Ryan Howard struck out and the Titans fell 11-10.
“Those are things you don’t forget,” coach Bart Jennings said. “But they also know what it takes emotionally and mentally to fight.”
Against Faith Christian, the Titans fell behind early. They erased the two-run deficit and went up 3-2 in the bottom of the third inning. Miller’s double to center field scored two runners, and courtesy runner Joey Dutton advanced on a balk before running in on a wild pitch.
That’s where things stood in the middle of the sixth inning when the game was delayed a half hour. Eagles pitcher Josh Doerr then forced in Tyler Bonaquista in with the bases loaded and Teller Wilson slid home on a wild pitch to give the Titans a 5-2 lead.
As Faith Christian threatened, Kobe Katayama came in and saw the Titans through the final two outs.
For their efforts, the Titans get a rematch with Eaton (20-1) at 10 a.m. At Frederick High School.
Eaton has won 14 straight games and a state-record 11 baseball championships, most recently in 2015.
“It would be great for us to beat a school like that,” Jennings said. “We're playing for the one game right now.”
TCA has dealt with a series of obstacles including COVID-19 concerns, finals and bad weather. The past five weeks – and particularly the past two and a half - have been a sprint for Titans (13-7), but a transformative one.
“These guys have been very resilient through that,” Jennings said.
“We're ecstatic about being here right now. We're very grateful.”
Against a powerhouse – Jennings used “dynasty” – the goal is to not have Saturday be interesting for a change.
“We're going to try to step on the gas from the get-go and see what happens,” he said.