The Trinity Christian Academy Conquerors started their trek toward a return trip to the Class 4A Final Four this past weekend with a trip to Southwest Florida to participate in the Plant City Preseason Classic. The Conquerors played 8A Plant City High School Friday night and 7A Brandon High School Saturday morning and came home with a split of the two games.
Plant City 1, Conquerors 0 (8 Innings)
Friday night’s game was a pitching duel between two seniors/FSU commits: Trinity’s Dylan Simmons and Plant City’s Parker Messick.
Simmons held the Raiders to three hits through five scoreless innings while walking one and striking out one and getting plenty of defense behind him. The Conquerors turned a lead-off double by Stetson commit Cade Shissler in the first into a 7-6-5 putout at third when Shissler tried to stretch it to a triple. Two batters later, Simmons picked off a runner at first to end the inning.
The Conquerors infield also turned three double plays. Two of them were routine 6-4-3 twin killings, but the third was unusual. With one out and the bases loaded in the fifth, Simmons got Demario Williams to swing and miss for strike three. The ball hit the dirt, and Williams started to run even though he was out by rule. This caused all three base runners to try to run as well. Catcher Sebastian Moore recovered the ball and easily tagged Ryan Robinson coming home to complete the K-2U double play and end a Plant City threat.
Messick, though, was exceptional on the mound for Plant City. He pitched six scoreless innings, in which he fanned 13 Conquerors and allowed only two base runners: a hit batsman and a double. He fanned four in a row between the first and second innings and nine of his final ten, including the last seven straight he faced. Messick struck out the side three times overall.
Reliever Jared Wingo was just as tough, pitching two scoreless innings for the win. Wingo stuck out the side in the seventh and worked around a leadoff walk in the eighth.
Wingo also scored the winning run after reaching on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the eighth. An error loaded the bases with two outs for Chris Rodriguez, who lined the 0-1 pitch into right field. Jared Donald made a valiant diving effort, but the ball found the ground to score Wingo from third.
Justin Parrish suffered the tough-luck loss after pitching 2 2/3 innings in relief. The unearned run was the only run he allowed on two hits and one walk.
Conquerors 18, Brandon 0
Saturday’s game was all Conquerors. Simmons, playing first base this time, led the way offensively with RBI singles in both the first and second innings. Noah Couch and Matt Luxemburg also drive in two runs each. Both men doubled in two runs in Trinity’s eight-run top of the fifth.
The Conquerors – taking advantage of errors and other opportunities -- scored a run in the first, three in the second, and five in the third to build a 10-run lead and make a winner out of Kanyan James. The big lefty pitched three innings of shutout ball while allowing four hits and one walk and striking out five.
James worked around a leadoff triple in the first and a leadoff double in the second, stranding both men. Each time, he struck out two batters and got an easy ground ball to retire the side. James had some trouble in the third but got out of the bases-loaded, one-out jam with his fifth strikeout and a line drive that Anthony Bucci ran down in right field.
Kirwin Scriven (single), Dawson Fietsam (single), Denver Wood (single), Justin Simmons (walk), and Kishon Frett (double) each drove in a run for Trinity as well.
Bryce Janney finished the final two innings, allowing no runs on two hits and a hit batsman.
The Conquerors will next travel face South Forsyth (Cummings, GA) on February 28 and then to LaGrange, Georgia, to face Niceville (played at LaGrange College) on March 1 and LaGrange High School plus a team to be announced both on March 2.