For most high school athletes, the privilege of slipping on a state championship ring is rare. At Augusta Christian Schools, some of the Lions are beginning to run out of fingers.
Augusta Christian claimed its third state championship of the school year with a 17-4 blowout over Wilson Hall in the SCISA AAA baseball state championship series Tuesday afternoon.
Combined with an SCISA championship in football and girls track this school year, the baseball state title means three more banners on the gym wall for the Lions. It's also the second baseball state title in as many years.
Augusta Christian catcher Taylor Hensley was a member of both baseball state title teams and the state champion football team.
"It feels good that God's blessed us like this," Hensley said. "Most people don't even get one (state championship)."
Lion pitcher and wide receiver Josh Whitaker also is a three-time state champion. The junior was the starting pitcher in both baseball state title games.
"Last year's baseball was more exciting because it was so close, and the football was great because it was the first one in football, but this is still one of the best moments in my life," Whitaker said after striking out eight Wilson Hall batters to claim this year's state title.
Backing up Whitaker was an offensive army led by seniors Wayne House and Ben Kilpatrick. House capped a six-run second inning in Game 2 of the championship series Tuesday with a three-run home run to push the Lion advantage to 10-2. Kilpatrick crushed the first pitch he saw in the fifth inning for a three-run home run to give Augusta Christian a total of 17 runs.
The Lions outscored Wilson Hall 24-8 in the two-game sweep.
"I can't describe it," Augusta Christian coach Craig Johnson said. "We didn't want it to look like last year. We didn't want it to come down to the last at bat."
This year's last at bat was a Wilson Hall strikeout that ended the game and sent the Lion faithful into a frenzy.
The Lions finished the year with a 24-4 record.
"This team was different than last year's," Johnson said. "Last year, we had something to prove. This year, we had a bull's-eye on our back."
For Augusta Christian, the bull's-eye was somewhere on a distant high school building located beyond the center field wall. The Lions hit the building twice in the second game.
The home runs were repeats of the first game of the championship series Monday when Trey Crabill and House hit back-to-back home runs at Wilson Hall.
"We went through a dead area where we weren't very strong, but we put runs on the board recently," Johnson said. "I felt like we were going to swing the bats well today."
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