JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (WDHN) – One Wiregrass baseball team made history by winning its first state title in nine years.
Houston Academy walked into Thursday needing to win two games against Gordo to win the state title and they did just that for the first time since 2014, Houston Academy is the 2023 Class 3A State champions.
This game also marked the final game for Raider Head Coach Tony Kirkland. Kirkland announced his retirement following the victory.
In game 2 of the series, Houston Academy needed a win, to force game three.
The scoring didn’t pick up until the 6th inning, after a duel of getting out jams between Gordo’s Aaron Baines and HA’s J.T. Pitchford. At the end of 7 innings of play, the score was tied at 1, so an extra inning of baseball followed.
In the extra frame, the floodgates opened and Gordo scored two runs to make it 3-1 going into the bottom of the 8th inning.
HA scored three runs in the bottom of the 8th inning, including a walk-off by way of a hit batsman, with the bases loaded. That win would force game 3.
In game three, it was all about Houston Academy Pitcher Griffin McGee, who was subbed in after 1 inning of work by Wyatt Shelley and the Houston Academy bats.
Gordo took the early lead, but the Raiders weren’t going down without a fight, scoring runs in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th innings
The Raiders were then able to close the door on the Green Wave in the bottom of the 7th inning to capture their first state title in 3A and their first state title since 2014.
“It’s crazy I never thought we would have been here ever,” Houston Academy pitcher J.T. Pitchford said. “We never gave up and that was a huge quality for us as seniors to lead our guys into never giving up and being the best examples we could. It feels good. One of the best feelings I have had, that’s for sure.”
“We had some battles in the five rounds and it’s just a tough thing to get here,” Houston Academy Head Coach Tony Kirkland said. “To be able to win it and you know to lose your first game and come back and win both. That’s a great feeling.”
The series MVP was senior Griffin McGee who pitched 6 innings only giving up one run and striking out 4 while adding two hits and drawing two walks at the plate.
“I think we went up one run in the 5th or 6th and it just felt like it was there almost,” McGee said. “Still feels unbelievable. I don’t know have any words for it.
Houston Academy now gets to go back home with all of their fans who made the 4-plus hour journey and celebrate a new blue map in the trophy case at Houston Academy.