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Trenton Blanks Sneads To Reach 1A State Championship

The Tigers celebrate during a seven-run fourth inning that paved the way to victory.

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One of the biggest changes that Trenton manager Adam Burton and his assistant coaches focused on with the players this year was getting them to learn when and how to make physical and mental adjustments during the game. All season long the Tigers have emulated those lessons to take advantage of every opportunity they have had. Wednesday morning that trend continued, as Trenton capitalized on a huge fourth inning to break things open and storm to a 10-0 win over Sneads in a 1A state semifinal at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

The Tigers (26-1) will face Madison County on Thursday afternoon in the 1A state final. The Cowboys (12-11) advanced with a 4-3, walk-off win over South Walton in Wednesday’s other 1A semifinal.

Both sides were locked into a scoreless stalemate early on, but the Tigers made adjustments the second time through the batting order. Those changes helped open the flood gates in the bottom of the fourth, as Trenton sent 11 batters to the plate and put seven runs on the scoreboard. Two innings later they added another three runs to finish things off and move on to Thursday’s title contest.

“Since I have been here that has been the big thing is can we stay solid defensively, and can we make the routine plays and give the extra effort on the tougher plays?,” Burton said. “We pound that in on every practice to control what you can control. It comes with confidence and being comfortable out there. The whole approach that you have to take as hitters is realizing the mentality you need to bring to the plate, and to have a plan, and to be disciplined throughout that plan. If you execute, it opens us up to opportunities like this morning.”

Both sides managed base runners early on, but were unable to string anything together to take control. Trenton starter Trent Simmons and Sneads starter Kade Chattwood both managed three scoreless frames the first time through the opposing batting order, before the Tigers made adjustments their second time through to begin to break things open.

Trey Sanchez worked a walk and Colton Rucker followed with a base hit to right field to get some ducks on the pond in the fourth. Daniel Plank followed with an RBI single to left field to drive in the deciding run, and Zachary Hardee came through by slashing an RBI single past the shortstop. Michael Smith then reached on an error, which was then followed by a throwing error that allowed all three base runners to come home.

“What we really tried to do there was put the bat on the ball and put it on the ground,” Burton said. “Through the little bit of research that we had on Sneads we saw that they were prone to making errors, so our framework this week was just to get the ball on the ground and let’s be aggressive on the pads. We did that today the second and third time through the order, and we had a lot of hit-and-runs and slashes to get them moving and get them on their feet. It proved to be successful.”

Daniel Plank races home to score in the fourth, as the Tigers’ second baseman went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

Chase Molloy kept things going with a single past the shortstop, and designated hitter Randy Fuller was hit by a pitch to bring freshman Wyatt Langford to the plate. After falling behind 0-2, Langford connected for a shot to right field that went for a two-RBI double and a 7-0 lead.

“I was so happy and I was just thankful that I could hit the ball hard,” Langford said. “I was down on the count with two strikes and I was kind of worried, so I just hit it hard.”

Trent Simmons with his third strikeout for Trenton #fhsaastatechampionships

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The big scoring burst was plenty of support for Simmons, the Tigers’ ace whom improved to 12-0 on the season. Coach Burton noted how Simmons comes out and competes every game, saying that he has just been completely dominant this year on the mound. Staked with the big lead, the right-hander showed no signs of letting up and allowing Sneads (18-12) to rally back.

“My attitude going into this game was just to go out there and compete the best I can for my team,” Simmons said. “I had to do my job today and get us where we are going tomorrow. There were a few times in a few innings where they could have had a big inning, but I kept telling myself to refocus and get out of it.”

After getting the big lead, Simmons faced just seven more batters to pick up the final six outs and earn the complete-game, shutout victory. He surrendered just two hits and three walks, while recording five strikeouts.

With momentum on their side, the Tigers got the bats going again in the sixth to finish things off. Smith and Molloy both singled to start the inning, and Fuller was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Langford supplied a sac-fly RBI and Jacob Guthrie deposited a single into shallow left field to send in the final two base runners that ended it.

Now the Tigers are focused on that one final win between them and their second state title in program history, after the team won the 1A title in the 2013 season.

“We set a goal this year to make it to tomorrow, and we won’t back down. We’re going to get after it,” Burton said.

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