CHICKAMAUGA - In a perfect scenario, Gordon Lee head baseball coach Mike Dunfee would have watched his team celebrate a Region 6-A title and take a 19-game winning streak into the Class A public school playoffs.
Instead, Dunfee was left to search for silver linings following the Trojans' 10-2 home loss to Mt. Paran Christian in Friday's region championship game.
The win gave the Eagles (22-2) an automatic berth into the Class A private school playoffs, and perhaps the tournament's overall No. 1 seed, depending on how the power ranking numbers shake out early next week.
A victory would mostly likely have given Gordon Lee (23-2) the overall No. 1 seed on the public school side, but with the loss, and with region champions earning the top spots in the state tournament, the Trojans will most likely be seeded fifth in the field of 16, despite currently sitting No. 2 in the standings by less than a point.
"Would I liked to have won the game and gotten that region championship? Heck, yes," Dunfee said. "But the two things we've preached all year is 'stay humble and stay hungry'. This loss, this butt-kicking we took, humbled us and now we've got that sick feeling in our stomachs. But now it's time to feed off those feelings and get hungry. I'm not so sure that this isn't a good thing for us."
The Eagles needed just one swing of the bat in the top of the first inning to swing the momentum in their favor.
After loading the bases with one out, Gordon Lee starter Jake Rogers struck out Mt. Paran catcher Will Schnur swinging and had an 0-2 count against designated hitter Keith Johnson. But Johnson caught up to Rogers' next offering and sent it over the fence in left field for a grand slam that gave the Eagles a 4-0 lead.
Gordon Lee answered in the bottom half of the inning by slicing Mt. Paran's lead in half. Rogers did the honors with a bases-loaded two-run single to right, but Eagles southpaw starter Andrew Maxwell would strand runners at first and third to escape without any further damage.
The Trojans would only put two more runners in scoring position the rest of the night.
Maxwell got the win after working four innings. He allowed just two hits and three walks with three strikeouts before turning things over to hard-throwing 6-foot-6 right-hander Jordan Versteeg, who gave up just two hits and struck out four over the final three innings.
Mt. Paran would add two more runs in the top of the second against reliever Zack Cobb, and three runs came home in the sixth against Tucker Bradley, two on a two-run shot by Tyler Flowers. The Eagles added one more run on a fielder's choice in the seventh.
"We just played a very good quality team in a playoff atmosphere, and that's good," Dunfee said. "We're going to have to face more teams like that down the road and beat them if we're going to win it all, and in a three-game series with all of our arms fresh, I like our chances.
"But now we just have to regroup. This game exposed a couple of things we need to work on in practice, and we've got a week to fine-tune everything. We've got an experienced group, and I suspect we're going to have a really good week of practice and come out ready to go on Friday. The regular season is over and now the real season starts. This (region) trophy would have been nice, but the big trophy at the end of the year is our main goal."
Rogers took the loss for Gordon Lee. Tanner Sexton, Branton Phiilips, and Adam Vandiver had the other three hits for the Trojans, all singles.
The final power ranking numbers for Class A will be released on Tuesday. Appeals will be heard on Wednesday and the brackets are set to be released later that afternoon.
Gordon Lee will begin the first round of the state tournament on Friday, May 3 with a doubleheader at home. A third game, if necessary, would be played on Saturday.