Trinity Edges Highlands 4-3 In Tough District Final
Trinity Christian did not get a great deal of hits on Saturday afternoon, but the hits they got were put to good use. The Warriors faced off against the Highland Christian Knights at De Vos Family Baseball Field at the Westminster Academy Sport Complex in a 3A-14 championship that had been pushed back all week due to weather. The tightly played game came down to a few timely hits, with the Warriors pulling out a close 4-3 victory.
With the scored tied in the bottom of the fifth, Aldrich De Jongh came to the plate for Trinity Christian with two outs and two runners on base. De Jongh had been retired on strikes in his two previous at bats versus Highlands Christian right-handed pitcher Swindley Lint. But this time De Jongh dug in and hit a hard line drive over the right fielder’s head for a double that drove in the deciding run.
“Aldrich adjusted well,” Trinity Manager Miguel Cuello said. “He had two tough at bats where their pitcher struck him out easily. But he dug in and concentrated and did the job for us today.”
It was a tight game throughout the afternoon. Highlands Christian loaded the bases in the second inning on a single, a double, and a fielders choice. Third baseman Daniel Malay worked a walk off of Trinity starter Angel Tiburcio, and the Knights moved ahead 1-0.
The Warriors, and especially catcher Shadrach Muelens, did not let that Knights’ lead last. Muelens sent a towering blast over the center field fence, clearing the 385-foot sign for a game-tying home run in the bottom of the second.
“That was the most important play of the game for us,” Cuello said. “It sent a message that we were here to play and it sparked our dugout.”
It’s the type of spark any hitter would love to provide. Muelens admitted that it was patience that led him to be able to come up with the big hit.
“I was patient up at the plate. Their pitcher had been throwing a lot of off-speed pitches and I wanted to wait for my pitch,” Muelens said. “He threw a fastball and I was able to put the bat on the ball.”
Trinity Christian (22-5) moved into the lead in the bottom of fourth. After an infield error, a walk and a hit batsman, shortstop Xavier Edwards came to the plate. With two outs and a 2-2 count, Edwards lofted a single down the left field line to score two runs and put the Warriors up 3-1. Edwards single was only the second hit of the day for Trinity Christian.
Highlands Christian (14-10) stormed right back in the top of the fifth. The Knights drew three straight walks and brought a run home on a single by senior Jason Wood. Daniel Malay got his second RBI of the day by drawing another walk to force in the tying run, making the score 3-3. With only one out and the bases loaded, this brought up Kyle Bombardier, who hit a fly ball to center field. Xeno Daal tagged from third and looked to have scored easily on the fly ball. Muelens took the throw from the center fielder and ran down the line to step on third base. He asked the umpire for a ruling on whether the Highlands Christian runner left early and was welcomed by a resounding out call by the home plate umpire.
“When I received the ball from my center fielder, I thought this runner is here too quickly,” Muelens related. “I knew something had to be wrong, so my instinct was to ask for a ruling.”
That play enlivened the Warriors, who promptly went out in the bottom half of the inning and scored the deciding run. Edmond Americaan worked the final two frames to pick up the victory and send the Warriors into the regional tournament as the district champions.
Highlands Christian first baseman James McGrath had two hits and reached base in all four of his at bats. Mitchell Carroll scored twice and Malay had two RBIs. Swindley Lint pitched six strong innings, giving up only five hits and striking out eight Warrior hitters.
Edwards had two hits and two RBIs for Trinity Christian, and winning pitcher Edmond Americaan scored twice.