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Trinity Christian Jacksonville Wins First State Title

The Conquerors’ Josh Broughton scores during a four-fun first inning that paved the way to the championship victory.

Championship Gallery

The Trinity Christian Conquerors showed from the very start that they were in it to win it. Behind a hot start and a strong pitching performance from Ryan Aspinwall, Trinity Christian edged Bishop Verot to claim the Class 4A state title early Wednesday morning at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers. Due to weather delays, the contest began three hours past its original start time at 10:30 Tuesday night, leading to a celebration that did not come until one o’clock in the morning.

It is the first state championship in program history. The Conquerors (23-8) were playing in their second championship, having also reached the title game in 2000.

Bishop Verot had battled back with a run in the seventh when Trevor Cramer doubled and scored on an RBI single from Richie Nizza. With the tying run at the plate, reliever Rollin Layton induced an infield grounder for the final out that sealed the victory.

Trinity Christian went right to work with four runs in the top of the first inning. John Flowers led off the game with a single to center, and Austin Martin moved him into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Flowers then came home to start the scoring when Logan Nugent reached on an infield error. Andrew Williamson drew a walk and the Conquerors plated another unearned run on an error following a single from John Broughton.

With the pressure on Bishop Verot (25-7) and starter Thaddeus Ward, Williamson increased the dial by swiping third base. Rollin Layton dropped down a sacrifice bunt that drove Williamson home, and he ducked under the tag along the first base line to keep things going. Cody Crawford followed with a single to left field that plated Broughton and gave Trinity Christian a 4-0 advantage.

Staked to a lead, Aspinwall kept the momentum on his side of the field with a 1-2-3 bottom of the first. The right-hander attacked the Vikings without fear, challenging batters and trusting the defense behind him. The senior worked into the seventh inning, allowing one earned run while scattering five hits and two walks. He recorded three strikeouts on 95 total pitches, before giving way to Layton in the final inning.

The Conquerors increased their lead in the top of the sixth. Crawford drew a leadoff walk, Brooks Wilson singled and Austin Martin was intentionally walked to load the bases. Nugent drove a liner past first base and into the right field corner, driving in two runners with a double.

The Vikings finally got on the scoreboard to cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the sixth. CJ Alexander reached on an error, Richie Nizza drew a walk and Michael Richey reached on a fielder’s choice that loaded the bases. Courtesy-runner Dalton Lagrave came in to run for Richey, while Anthony Tejeda stepped to the plate. The designated hitter delivered to end the shutout with an RBI single that pushed CJ Alexander home.

With the momentum now on their side, the Vikings kept attacking. Cory Castellano reached on a fielder’s choice that erased Nizza at third and brought Blaze Alexander to the plate. The third baseman delivered Bishop Verot’s biggest hit of the night with a liner to center field that scored two runs to pull within 6-3.

While the Conquerors bent late, they never lost the lead. The fire that started in the first inning continued to burn throughout the night and into the next morning. When the smoke finally cleared, Trinity Christian emerged with its first championship trophy and memories that will last forever.

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