Chaz Salter, senior, slides into home plate. Mustangs gathered around home plate to congratulate Salter as he slid into home.

Bronlyn Holland

Mustangs slide into State Championship

May 15, 2019

The Mustangs swept the Decatur Bulldogs in the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA Final Four series on Tuesday, May 14. Game One ended in the eighth inning with a final score of 11-10 and Game Two ended with a score of 6-4.

“It feels great. It means a lot to this program, especially for the guys who have fought before them [underclassmen] and got us to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time and taking that next step to the Elite Eight and then Final Four and now we’re pushing past it. It’s very special,” Kyle McCreary, assistant coach, said.

Last week, the Mustangs made history by beating the Buford Wolves and advancing to the Final Four series, and now they made history again by beating the Bulldogs to advance them to the State Championship.

“I couldn’t be more happy for my guys and this coaching staff, this program and this community. The support we’ve gotten is unmatched to anything I’ve seen, so it’s just awesome,” Michael Edwards, head coach, said.

The support we’ve gotten is unmatched to anything I’ve seen, so it’s just awesome,”

— Michael Edwards

At the beginning of Game One, the Mustangs trailed behind the Bulldogs 1-0 until the third inning when Baylen Sanders, junior, nailed a two run RBI double scoring Garrett Carter, sophomore, and Jack Witmer, junior. Patrick Holloman, junior, scored on a Bulldogs’ error and Chaz Salter, senior, followed up with a RBI to give the Mustangs a  4-1 lead.

“I’ve always told these guys we’re going to play pitch by pitch and it doesn’t matter who, it’s the game of baseball and that’s the good thing about this game and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Edwards said.

As the Mustangs faced challenges in both games, they found a turning point when Holloman scored a grand slam in the sixth inning of Game One and a home run in the third inning of Game Two. Holloman is familiar with a home run feeling by also having a home run in the Elite Eight.

Bronlyn Holland
Patrick Holloman, junior, watches his grand slam as he runs to first base. Holloman scored a grand slam and a home run during the Final Four series.

“It feels good. I just love trying to produce for my team and trying to make some energy for the team when we’re down,” Holloman said.

While the grand slam and home run were turning points on the scoreboard, it was a turning point for the players and coaches as well.

“It came at a huge time. It was a time that we were down and needed a spark and that was huge. To start the next game, Pat came up and got a home run and really both of them provided a great spark for us and put us forward,” McCreary said.

For the first time in the Bulldogs’ season, they lost not one but two games on their own field and the Mustangs were only there to make it happen.

“It feels amazing. It’s a culmination of all the hard work we put in and it’s awesome because we feel on top of the world,” Michael Thomason, senior, said.

The proceedings for the Mustangs is a first for them, but some feel it is extra special.

“It feels great to be going into the State Championship as a junior and I feel like we’ve worked for it, ” Austin Brown, junior, said.

That ring is on our fingertips and we need to go in and take what’s ours,”

— Kyle McCreary

To reach the State Championship, a team must win games but for the Mustangs it was more than that.

“Just staying together as a team and not getting down…and every day keeping it going,” Thomason said.

The State Championship will be a special game for the players, but for some it will be their last.

“They ended playing at home going out in a fashionable way with their last home game and it doesn’t happen. You never win on your home field on your last home game. It is very rare, so to have that signature win was awesome but going into the State Championship I told them to enjoy it, soak it in and own the moment. That ring is on our fingertips and we need to go in and take what’s ours,” McCreary said.

Bronlyn Holland
Jack Witmer, junior, strikes the ball during the third inning. Witmer scored off of Baylen Sanders’, junior, hit.

Thomas played for the Mustangs during his high school years and is ready to take the field with his teammates for the last time.

“I just want to go out on top. It’s just awesome. It’s awesome to come from where I was as a freshman to where I am now and where the team is now and how far we’ve come and it’s awesome with all the hard work we’ve put in,” Thomason said.

The Mustangs will be back in action on Monday, May 20 at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Georgia for the GHSA Class AAAAA State Championship playing against the Loganville Red Devils. Game One begins at 5:00pm and Game Two begins at 7:30pm.

Students can see Chelsea McCreary, SGA coordinator, for information about the about the “State Travel Package”.

Updates on the Mustangs can be found on Twitter at @olabaseball.

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