It’s the King’s Ridge baseball team that has now provided the school with its first state title as the Tigers swept Region 6A rival Mount Paran Christian in two games in their Class A private school best-of-three championship series last Saturday.
King’s Ridge (28-4) clinched the title in dominating fashion, winning the first game 10-3 and then taking the second game by an equally convincing 7-2 score to complete the sweep. It is the biggest achievement for a King’s Ridge baseball team and athletic program that is completing only its fourth season in GHSA competition and is in its 13th year overall.
“We’re unbelievably excited,” King’s Ridge coach Jason Couch said. “I’m super proud of the boys and I’m just really happy for the community. Being the first [state champion for King’s Ridge], that’s something the whole community rallies around. There was tremendous support from the faculty and the staff and the families. It was neat to just obviously win it for the baseball guys, but more so for the community to kind of be that first one that everybody kind of points to as the rallying point for the rest of the [athletic] program and the school in general. We’re so very, very proud.”
King’s Ridge established its dominance early in both games, jumping out to an 8-1 lead in the second inning of the opening game and scoring four runs in the fourth inning to pull away in the title-clinching contest.
The Tigers hit five home runs and had 19 hits in the two games combined, while Adam Moore and Austin Higginbotham threw complete-game victories in games one and two respectively.
It was a dramatic improvement for King’s Ridge over its two regular-season losses to Mount Paran – which the Tigers lost 6-0 March 25 and 9-1 April 10.
“Mount Paran is in our region and so we’ve played them twice during the year and they beat us pretty soundly during the regular season,” Couch said.
“I think that actually played into our motivation for the finals, just knowing how soundly they beat us before. We knew we would have to play our absolute best against them. So when we got off to such a good start, it really got us a lot of confidence. We played so well in the other [state playoff] series, it just kind of snowballed and our confidence was super high and the kids swung the bats very, very well.”
Wake Forest commitment Connor Burns was 3-for-3 with three home runs and six RBIs to lead the way for King’s Ridge in the first game, while LSU signee Grayson Byrd was 3-for-4 with a two-run home run and three runs scored for the Tigers in game two.
With its 28-4 record and now in possession of a state title, it was by far the most successful season in King’s Ridge’s brief baseball history.
“Before the season started, we all recognized that we had a lot of talent on the team,” Couch said. “So, before the season, we talked about season goals and everybody on the team recognized that a state championship was certainly possible. But I don’t think anybody totally recognized that until the very end. So I think all along we knew we could – it was just a matter of getting everybody to play together and have the confidence to recognize that we could finish the job.
“I’m just super proud of the boys. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of talent. But everybody throughout the lineup contributed to it and it was neat to see those guys pull it out and play great baseball at the right time.”