Mar. 6—When asked if he felt his baseball team was playing at an acceptable level two weeks into the season after Friday's 13-3 home win over Ringgold, Gordon Lee High School coach Mike Dunfee laughed as if the question was rhetorical.
"Games like tonight and against Mount Paran will help us down the road, but it's never good enough," said Dunfee, who has led the Trojans to the past two GHSA Class A public championships.
"Until it's all said and done, there are always ways you can improve. It's early and we're still trying to work out the kinks, get consistent with it and ultimately get hot at the end. That's the key, and it's what we've tried to do here the last few years."
The Trojans (4-1) did just that against Class AAA's Tigers, who are also an annual playoff power. The game in Chickamauga was tied at three in the fifth inning when a Ringgold miscue — a pitch that went to the backstop on a swinging third strike with two outs — opened the door.
Gordon Lee followed with a single and a walk to load the bases. Jake Poindexter then roped an RBI single, Griff Collins followed with a two-run hit and Jacob Neal made it 7-3 with another run-scoring single.
The Trojans ended the game in the bottom of the sixth with six more runs, including a grand slam by Blake Rodgers. A sophomore, Rodgers was also the winning pitcher after going three innings and allowing a hit and no runs and striking out five batters.
"He's a player," Dunfee said. "When we shut down last March (due to the COVID-19 outbreak) he was a freshman, and I was disappointed he didn't get that opportunity to show what he could do, but when they cleared us to play summer ball — he plays on my son's summer team — he had an outstanding summer.
"This kid's going to be a player for us. He's a hard worker who works his tail off getting his body right. When he's on, he's tough to beat on the mound. He's swinging it well, too."
Rodgers had three hits to go with his four RBIs, with Poindexter adding two hits, an RBI and two runs scored. Nate Dunfee and Neal also had two hits, while Colin Mountjoy and Kenyan Ransom had RBIs for Ringgold (4-5).
Christian Heritage is one win away from the title game for the GHSA Class A private school state playoffs. The Lions (23-3) will host Mount Pisgah Christian (25-6) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Dalton, the second semifinal appearance in three seasons for coach Tyler Watkins' team.
To break through, the Lions will have to hope their young guards can hold up against Mount Pisgah's senior guard duo of JoJo Peterson and Chase Tucker. The two combined for 41 points in the team's 62-55 quarterfinal win this week over St. Anne-Pacelli.
Christian Heritage can counter with a pair of talented freshmen: Jax Abernathy, the Region 7-A private player of the year who led the team with 24 points in Wednesday's 59-54 quarterfinal win over First Presbyterian Day, and Zundra Jackson, the team's second-leading scorer this season.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.