By keeping the ball low, Brock Stevens was able to lead Trinity to a high.
The senior starter fanned nine and allowed one earned run on three hits and four walks in a six-inning outing as Trinity cruised past Mars Hill Bible, 9-2, in Game 1 of the Class 3A baseball finals Thursday night at Paterson Field. Trinity (32-8) goes for the series win and a repeat as state champions at 4 p.m. today at Riverwalk Stadium.
“I had everything going for me,” said Stevens, who missed the 2012 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. “Keeping the ball low mainly and pitching what (catcher) Zach (Walker) was giving to me.”
Stevens, who is signed with South Alabama, also helped his own cause by going 3-for-4 with a RBI.
Trinity (32-8) gave Stevens a 3-0 lead before he even took the hill. Walker hit a RBI-single, Will Holland was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and picked up a RBI and shortstop Robert Adams (2-for-3) hit a sac fly for the first of his three RBIs.
“I think the first inning was a big key,” Trinity coach Ken Whittle said. “Takes a little bit of that edge off, that pressure off, when you can score early.”
Stevens (8-2) breezed through the middle innings and helped the Wildcats blow it open with a four-run fifth.
“He did a great job of keeping them off balance, Whittle said of Stevens, whose two-out double was followed by back-to-back walks and a two-run single to left by Adams, followed by a two-run double by Allen Wood which made it 7-0 in the fifth.
“Had a curveball and I knew what I had to do and waited back on it and drove it in,” Adams said.
Glenn Irby was tagged for seven earned runs on six hits and four walks with four strikeouts in five innings and went 3-for-4 at the plate for Mars Hill Bible (32-18).
The teams each scored runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
Stevens drove in Johnston in the top of the sixth and worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning. J.T. Judson hit a sac fly to right to put the Panthers on the board at 8-1, and Stevens got Ben August to strike out with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Adams hit a one-out stand-up triple in the seventh and scored on a Christopher Hynniman single for a 9-1 Trinity lead.
Thomas Burrows (2-for-2) hit an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh for Mars Hill Bible.