A lot of high school baseball teams can hit the ball and put up runs on the scoreboard.
However, a team with starting pitching good enough to shut down those high-powered offenses? Now that’s truly a luxury.
It’s a luxury that Gordon Lee High School enjoyed a double dose of in 2019.
Junior Jake Wright and sophomore Jake Poindexter — better known in Chickamauga circles by the moniker “Jake Squared” — was a devastating one-two punch for the Trojans this past spring as they helped carry the Navy-and-White to the Region 6-A title and a second straight Class 1A Public School state championship.
Today, the inseparable duo stands together again as the 2019 Walker County Pitchers of the Year.
“It feels really good, especially knowing that I’m sharing (the award) with my teammate,” said Wright, who recently committed to continue his playing days at Carson-Newman after high school. “We’ve been out there together all year, so it’s pretty fitting that we get this together.”
Hitting Wright was something very few opposing teams could do with any consistency this past season. The righty was a spotless 9-0 on the hill and led all Trojan starters in innings pitched (70), ERA (1.00) and strikeouts (112), while allowing just 25 walks on the year.
“I just tried to go out there and give our team the best chance that I could to win every time,” he added. “I had great run support and great defense (behind me), which made my job easy.”
The All-State first teamer also helped contribute to that run support and defense. A solid defensive player in right field, he batted .291 out of the No. 8 slot, scored 24 runs, was third among the Gordon Lee lineup with 34 RBIs and actually led the Trojans in homers with six. He also developed a reputation for clutch hits and delivered more than his share of big swings when his team needed them the most.
Meanwhile, Poindexter came through with an 8-1 mark on the mound. He had a 2.20 ERA in 57.1 innings of work, walking 18 and fanning 82, including a career-high 15 in a memorable playoff win over Jenkins County.
“It feels good knowing that (Wright) and I got this award,” said the future Georgia Bulldog. “There’s no one more deserving then him, but it’s nice that we’re both out here getting this award together today. We did a lot of running together and we both spent a lot of time throwing here on the weekends. It’s all paid off.”
An All-State second team selection, Poindexter had to fight his way through a basketball injury before starting to regain his form midway through the baseball season.
“At the time, I was struggling,” he explained. “It was really hard for me because I had some confidence issues, but I think it was after a game against Mount Paran (in mid-March) that I started getting my velocity back and then I knew that I was back. It all just went up from there.”
Both pitchers said they got a boost from watching each other throw, especially in the playoffs. Wright was Gordon Lee’s regular Game 1 starter with Poindexter coming in for Game 2.
“I feel like we’re confident in the two of us (pitching) in Games 1 and 2,” Wright said. “But I also knew that if a series went to Game 3 that our pitching staff was deep enough and that we had enough players that could come in and get the job done.”
“Jake really set the tone for all of the series,” Poindexter added. “He really goes out there with a lot of energy and it’s up to me bring that same energy and intensity in Game 2.”
With Gordon Lee fans looking forward to one more year of “Jake Squared” in 2020, both pitchers have a vision of how they want next season to play out.
“We’re going to try to do it again, but we just can’t take anything for granted,” Wright stated. “We’re going to bring some new people up and we’ll have to fill some roles, especially losing our catcher. That’s going to be tough, but we’ll try to do our best and get back (to the state championship series) again."
“Like Jake said, he wants to go out on top,” Poindexter continued. “So I’ll do everything I can to make sure he does that.”