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Trenton Wins Class 1A State Championship

Manager Adam Burton and the seniors of the 2017 Class 1A state champion Trenton Tigers.

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When Adam Burton first took over as manager of the Trenton Tigers last season, he pointed at the program’s 2013 state championship banner and let his entire team know that he was there to lead them to its second title. Thursday afternoon that day arrived, as Trenton battled to a 3-2 victory over Madison County to win the Class 1A state championship at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

“These guys, this team, this coaching staff, the community, we are all one big team,” Burton said. “The effort and the time that has been put into this thing is unbelievable. I could tell before the game today that these guy’s focus was nail-to-nail. Our guys are a team with a relationship that is built off of trust, and it was a heck of a way to go out and compete and stay focused to every pitch. We preach as a coaching staff to stay focused on every single pitch and they did that tonight.”

Down by one, the Tigers (27-1) got the bats going for the winning runs in the top of the fifth inning. Wyatt Langford and Trey Sanchez both walked and Colton Rucker dropped down an excellent bunt that went for a base hit that loaded up the bags. The Cowboys responded with a big defensive play for the first out, as Jacob Guthrie sent a hot-shot that ricocheted off the pitcher’s right hand, where Trey Mitchell raced towards the mound from third base to grab the ball and fire home for the force out. But two wild pitches followed to allow courtesy-runner Wesley White and Guthrie to both score and put Trenton back in front for good.

Junior Landon Kennedy delivered a complete game on the mound to earn the win for the Tigers.

Trenton raced out of the chute to grab the lead in the top of the first inning. Michael Smith reached on an infield error and then advanced to second base on the strength of a sacrifice bunt from Chase Molloy. Randy Fuller then reached on a high infield popper, and both base runners broke on the following pitch to allow Smith to round third and score on a throwing error.

Junior Landon Kennedy made the start and went the distance for the Tigers. The right-hander allowed six hits and two walks, and recorded three strikeouts to earn the win and improve to 8-0 for the year. Kennedy relied heavily on his curveball, especially late in the action.

“It was the game plan all night,” Kennedy said. “Coach likes my off-speed and I am confident with it. We knew they could hit fastballs, so I had to throw it. It felt great and I just had to finish every pitch like I have been told since I’ve started here. I knew it was going to be a dogfight tonight and I just had to work.”

Madison County threatened to answer right back against Kennedy in the bottom of the first. Trey Mitchell lined a single past first base and moved on to second off a passed ball. Catcher Dustin Bass walked and gave way to courtesy-runner Brinson Rye to put the go-ahead run on base, but the Tigers responded as Smith scooped up a roller along the left sideline, stepped on third base and then fired across the diamond for the inning-ending double-play.

Dilan Lawson got the Cowboys going in the bottom of the fourth. The sophomore shortstop ripped a liner just fair past third base and deep into the left field corner, and Lawson displayed great base-running to fly around the diamond and slide in ahead of the throw for a two-out triple. Jaebion Mitchell then put his team on the scoreboard as he lined a shot up the middle, forcing the second baseman to slide across the dirt to make the stop while Jaebion raced up the line to reach base ahead of the throw.

Jacob Guthrie celebrates after scoring the deciding run in the fifth inning.

Jaebion was not long for first base, as a passed ball allowed him to advance into scoring position. After Tre Adams worked a walk, Drew Annett laced a single just past the diving shortstop and Jaebion raced around third to score standing up and give Madison County a 2-1 lead.

Burton did not waiver in his confidence in Kennedy, electing to stick with him and trust that the offense would get those runs back.

“He just came out there and continued to throw strikes and compete and give us the best chance to win the game,” Burton said. “My confidence is in him and all the other guys on this team, and I never doubted them one time. I strongly feel that he grew as a young man and a player tonight. He learned about himself and what limits he can push through. I could not be more proud of him, and the whole team.”

The Trenton defense also came up with several crucial plays. Eighth-grader Jacob Guthrie made an amazing diving catch to rob a base hit from Drew Annett and record the first out of the bottom of the seventh. Senior third baseman Michael Smith also made a critical play to record the first out of the fifth, which proved to be huge after the Cowboys rallied for all their runs later in the frame. Madison County’s Trey Mitchell sent a comebacker that ricocheted off Kennedy’s glove, but Smith scooped the ball up bare-handed and fired to first for the important putout.

“Every time the ball is hit, the first step is toward’s the ball. I saw that it tipped off Landon’s glove and I saw the way it was ricocheting so I just ran to the ball and did what I did. It was just instinct,” Smith said.

Trenton wins the 1A state championship!!!

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Trenton manager Adam Burton talks about winning another state title for the Tigers.

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