Jeff Davis High’s baseball team surprised a lot of observers across the state as they were unranked in several polls for most of the season before posting a 10-4 record in the playoffs and winning their third state championship in the last four complete seasons.
Saturday afternoon and evening at Grayson Stadium in Savannah, JD swept The Lovett School, a baseball powerhouse that draws players from all over the metro Atlanta area, 5-2 and 8-3.
As freshman reliever Alex Mason struck out the final batter swinging in the top of the seventh inning, the celebration exploded on the infield as the players crashed into the traditional championship pile amid wide grins, hugs and high fives between players and coaches alike.
Adding to the excitement was a chorus of cheers and applause from the Jacket faithful in the stands who appeared to out-number the Lovett supporters 3- or 4-to-one. Many of those Jacket supporters in the stands were members of the 2017 and 2019 state championship teams who warmly relived their own celebratory piles after winning their titles.
With the victories, the Jackets finished the season with a 28-14 record.
Clearly, Lovett was a formidable foe and was thought by many pundits as the favorite in the series. But Jeff Davis continued its no-quit attitude, over coming early deficits for the two come-from-behind wins.
In the opener, the Jackets, playing as the visiting team, scored an unearned run in the first as the Lions committed two errors. With Hamp Hayes on first and Cade Walters at second, both of whom reached on errors, starting pitcher Matthew White helped his own case with an RBI single.
In the bottom of the inning, Lovett started on fire with a pair of singles and a 2-run double to take a 2-1 lead.
Lovett starting pitcher Michael Hollingsworth shut down the Jackets after White’s first inning single as he retired the next 11 batters in a row, until Ethan Hulett singled in the fifth.
Entering the sixth, the Lions still led 2-1. Trenton Clance reached first on an error and when Walters tried to sacrifice him over, the bunt was perfect for a single. Then Ethan Griffin tried a sacrifice bunt which Hollingsworth, in his haste to pick up the well-placed bunt, couldn’t get a handle on the ball and the bases were loaded with no one out.
Hayes then drilled a bases-clearing double to left to put the Jackets up 4-2.
When Kamden Munsayac went in to run for Hayes, the big senior first baseman trotted off the field to thunderous applause and cheers from Jacket fans.
But the Jackets weren’t finished. White got his second single of the game, moving Munsayac to third. When Matt Glass grounded to second for the first out, Munsayac came home to up the score to 5-2.
White did the rest, shutting out Lovett the rest of the way to take a complete game victory.
Lovett out-hit the Jackets 8-6 but the Lions committed four errors that led to three unearned runs, the difference in the game. The Jacket defense, meanwhile was flawless. Center fielder Cason Clance was the busiest defender for JD as he accounted for 10 outs catching flies and line drives, including a smoking line drive to his left that would have gone over a lesser athlete’s head for extra bases. But he made a leaping, over-the-shoulder snag that was highlight reel worthy.
White had a pair of singles and an RBI, Walters singled twice, Hayes doubled in three runs, Hulett singled and Glass drove in a run.
White gave up two runs on eight hits, walked two and struck out four.
In the second game, the Lions again took an early lead, this time with a single run in the first. They threatened to score more as starting pitcher Cole Baucom walked two batters to load the bases with two outs. But the senior right-handed struck out the next batter looking to end the inning.
The Jackets took the lead in the bottom of the inning. Trenton Clance singled to center to open the inning and Walters sacrificed him to second. Griffin then came up and lofted a pop fly that the Lion pitcher muffed and JD had runners at first and second. Hayes then hit a liner to center to score Clance and push Griffin to third. Cam Williams followed with a hard-hit grounder to short that the shortstop couldn’t handle and Griffin scored to make it 2-1.
In the third, the Jackets sent 11 batters to the plate as they scored six runs to put the game out of reach. This time, errors didn’t play a role in the scoring.
Hayes started the inning with a double, followed by back-to-back singles by Williams and Glass to make it 3-1. After an out, Conner Rea was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Casen Clance then drilled a hard-hit liner into the right field corner to start a merry-go-round on the bases. When the dust cleared, the Jackets led 6-1 with Cason Clance on third with a 3-run triple. Trenton Clance then drove in his younger brother with a single to center. Walters and Griffin followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases and Hayes walked on a 3-2 count to drive in another run, making it 8-1.
Lovett got an unearned run in the fourth to cut the lead to 8-2.
In the seventh, the Lions brought their fans to their feet as a single, a Jacket error and another single loaded the bases with no one out. The Lions’ next batter grounded to Trenton Clance at shortstop who stepped on second and threw to first for a double play as a run scored to make it 8-3.
Mason then faced the next batter with a runner at third and two outs. After the batter looked at the first strike and a ball evened the count at 1-1, Mason blew a pitch by the swinging batter, who fouled off the next pitch and then swung and missed for the third and final out as Mason leaped into the air with both hands up to celebrate the victory, and the celebration began.
The early-season batting failures were a distant memory in the final game as the Jackets banged out 11 hits, three for extra bases.
Hayes had a double, a single and two RBI, Trenton Clance had a pair of singles and an RBI, Glass singled twice and drove in a run, Cason Clance had a 3-run triple, Rea doubled, Williams single;ed and drove in a run, and Griffin and Walters both singled. Walters and Hulett both had a sacrifice.
Baucom picked up the win. He threw three innings, giving up one run on four hits, walking three and striking out four. Mason earned a save with four innings on the mound. He gave up a pair of unearned runs on three hits, walked three and struck out two.
Always aware of the moment, Head Coach Paul Glass got senior Tyler Brewer into the game for a pinch hit in the sixth and then got senior White, who did not play defense in the final game, into the game to pinch hit after Brewer. Neither reached base but they did get to play in the last game of their careers.
Score by innings:
JDHS 1 0 0 0 0 4 0 -5
TLS 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2
TLS 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 -3
JDHS 2 0 6 0 0 0 x -8