For the third year in a row, Augusta Christian will play for a state baseball championship.
The Lions baseball team has won the SCISA Class AAA state title each of the last two years and will look to do it again this week. Augusta Christian swept Laurence Manning in two games in the state semifinals and will face Ben Lippen in a best-of-three games series starting Monday at 4:30 p.m.
For the Lions, just getting to the state title series took a monumental effort.
"We had to let everybody know we're still a good team," senior Taylor Hensley said. "Around SCISA I think everybody thinks we're not the team we used to be."
That popular opinion came after Augusta Christian lost 11 seniors from last year's state championship team. A brand-new ball club entered the picture in 2007 and picked up where their predecessors left off. The Lions are now 20-8 and have already claimed a Region 1-AAA championship.
They swept Laurence Manning in the SCISA Class AAA state tournament semifinals with a win at home on Tuesday and on the road on Monday. The two wins revealed a Lions team that excelled in every aspect of the game.
"This by far was one of our better games of the year top to bottom," Johnson said after Monday's win. "It was another good outing by Travis (Cerasuolo) on the mound. He's pitched that way all year long but hasn't always had the run support. It's good to see him get some today."
The Lions followed up the 7-0 win with an 8-0 victory on the road on Tuesday. Junior Tyler Bourdo homered in a four-run first inning, and Hensley also hit one out of the park in the seventh inning.
Hensley got the win on the mound after a six-inning, seven strikeout performance while senior Josh Whitaker pitched a perfect seventh inning in relief.
Augusta Christian's state championship opponent, Ben Lippen, is a familiar opponent. The two teams finished in a tie for first in the Region 1-AAA standings after regular season play. A 4-3 playoff win gave the Lions the region title, but Ben Lippen has since knocked off the No. 1 and 2 seeds in the state quarterfinals and semifinals.
Augusta Christian hasn't lost a state playoff series since joining SCISA three years ago.
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