Trenton defeats Chiefland to win 1A title

The Trenton Tigers celebrate with with the trophy after defeating the Chiefland Indians in the class 1A state baseball final on Thursday at Jet Blue Park in Ft. Myers. Trenton mercy ruled Chiefland 11-1 to win the state championship.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 8:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 8:06 p.m.

FORT MYERS — For the Trenton Tigers baseball team, trading a late-season loss for a state championship is just fine with them.

The Tigers got their revenge on the only team to beat them this season on Thursday, scoring five runs in the sixth inning to put away rival Chiefland, 11-1, in six innings for the Class 1A state championship at JetBlue Park, spring training home of the Boston Red Sox.

The Indians had spoiled Trenton's bid for a perfect regular season, pounding the Tigers at their place 15-2 on April 19. Trenton coach Todd Bryant said the loss was good for his team.

It showed Thursday on the biggest stage, where both teams were playing in their first baseball title games.

Jonathan Smith's run-scoring double in the third opened the floodgates offensively for the Tigers (27-1), who went on to score three runs in the third, three in the fourth and then delivered the knockout in the sixth.

It marked the school's first boys state title and fifth championship in school history. Trenton had won back-to-back Class A titles in girls basketball in 1979-80 and won slow-pitch softball titles in the early 1980s and early 1990s.

“It was actually a blessing for us, it really was,” Todd Bryant said. “When we were 21-0, I kept saying we got a monkey on our back. Chiefland did us a favor when they beat us. I didn't want to be beaten 15-2. The next day we had practice, and had like three great practices and from then we have been on fire.”

“Hitting is contagious. That hit (Jonathan Smith's double) got us going right there. Tim Reidy is a great competitor, a great pitcher, but today he wasn't going to throw it by us.”

Todd Bryant's son, senior Clif Bryant, had two huge hits that on a regular high school field would have easily been home runs, but in JetBlue Park were an RBI triple in the third and two-run, ground-rule double in the sixth.

Senior Hunter Parrish had a double and single with two RBIs, Cedric Stokes, a member of the football team that lost in the 1A state final to Northview last December, had two hits, as did No. 9 hitter Michael Smith, who also had an RBI.

Junior Stephen Smith (2-1), the quarterback of the football team, got the win, scattering five hits with four strikeouts. Reidy (4-3) took the loss, lasting just 3.1 innings, giving up six runs, four earned.

“We are a loose team,” Stephen Smith said. “When we get uptight, we don't play very well. After that loss to Chiefland to end the regular season, like coach said the monkey was off our back and we played for the love of the game.

“I just threw the ball and didn't think about it. I didn't aim it, I just reared back and threw it.”

“Today he pitched,” Todd Bryant said. “That night (loss to Chiefland) he threw.”

Chiefland's James Miller, the No. 9 batter, had two hits and drove in the first run, giving the Indians an early 1-0 lead in the second after a pair of Trenton errors. The teams combined for seven errors.

The Tigers, who were hitless after their first 10 batters, got Jonathan Smith's double, Bryant's triple and Parrish's double consecutively for three runs to take the lead for good, 3-1.

Meanwhile, Stephen Smith, who gave up an unearned run in the second, threw four scoreless innings, allowing just three hits during that stretch.

“They are an awfully good ball team over there, we knew that going in,” said Kyle Parnell, whose team finished the season 18-8. “Obviously we know each other really well. They outplayed us today. I'm proud of our kids and the journey that got us here. We won some tough ballgames. This hurts today. I appreciate the support we got today from our fans.

“Stephen was zoned in today and pitched a great game for them.”

“Chiefland is a very good team, but we made a statement today,” Todd Bryant said. “We are the best team in 1A. We are the best hitting team in 1A. This is the best team to ever come out of Trenton, Florida.”

Reidy, a senior who helped the Indians to their first state tournament and first state final, said he just wasn't sharp after the first inning.

“I just wasn't hitting my spots with my fastball,” he said. “I was hitting it pretty well in the first inning but it kind of went downhill from there.”

Clif Bryant, who leads the area in batting, RBIs and home runs, was happy to close his high school career with the school's first state baseball title.

“It was really intense,” he said. “I thought everyone was really focused. We were just ready to play today.”

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