Augusta Christian's Wayne House (left) and Jonathon Harriman ran down Wilson Hall's Derek Moore in the first inning of the SCISA class AAA state championship game.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
When Craig Johnson joined Augusta Christian three years ago, he wanted to return the Lions baseball team to the glory it had experienced with state titles in 1996 and 1999.
As of Tuesday, mission accomplished.
Augusta Christian (26-2) defeated Wilson Hall, 4-3, in Game 2 of the South Carolina Independent Schools Association Class AAA state championship series, giving the Lions their third state title. ACS won Game 1, 14-2, Monday.
"When I came here three years ago, I just wanted to be able to get this program back to where it was," Johnson said. "I think we can say that it's back."
The win came with some late-inning heroics from junior third baseman Wayne House.
The Lions were trailing 3-2 in the final inning with two outs and the bases loaded and the Barons' ace Matt Talley coming in for the save.
House lived his boyhood dream by drilling a 1-2 fastball off the right-field fence to score Nolan Belcher and Jonathan Herriman and give the Lions the win.
"I went up there with a lot of confidence," House said. "I saw the crowd and my teammates all cheering me on. I wasn't going down on strikes. I was going to put the ball in play."
House's hit rocketed high off the right-field fence, which is about 10 feet tall. He didn't make it far because he was mobbed by half his team after he rounded first base. The other half, along with a handful of fans, joined in a pile at the plate.
Augusta Christian's George Vozniak celebrates after defeating Wilson Hall for the SCISA class AAA state title in Martinez. The victory over Wilson Hall gives the team ACS its third state title.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"I knew when he hit the ball, we had won the game," said Augusta Christian coach Craig Johnson. "I have a lot of confidence in Wayne House. He is second on the team in RBIs and he is one of our more dangerous hitters."
The finish erased what had been an anemic offensive effort by both teams.
The Barons (19-6) had only three hits to go with three runs. Augusta Christian's first two runs were unearned.
"It was a good game for pitching," said Belcher, who came in for relief of Josh Whitaker. "Both teams pitched real well and the hitters just struggled."
After the game, the word "dynasty" started to creep out of a few players mouths.
"We only lose a couple of seniors off this season," said sophomore and Game 2 starting pitcher Whitaker. "We can already start thinking about next year today. I think we can win two or three more in a row."
Johnson, who is in his third year as the Lions coach, said he just wanted to celebrate this one before worrying about next year.
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