He wasn’t at his customary spot in the dugout, but there was no question that the Redan baseball team had coach Marvin Pruitt on their mind as they celebrated winning the Class AAAA championship.
The veteran coach had to step back from the day-to-day operation of the club since health problems early in the year. But when the players received the championship trophy, it went straight to Pruitt, who smiled as the crowded chanted his name.
“This is something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time,” said Pruitt, DeKalb County’s first 400-game winning coach.
Redan (30-7) knocked off nemesis Marist (27-9), winning the first game 11-0 and taking the second 4-3 at Marist’s Jerry Queen Field. It was the first title for a DeKalb County public school since Dunwoody in 2007. It was the third time Redan had reached the final.
“This means a lot,” said Redan shortstop Wesley Jones, a Georgia signee. “To have the experience to get one … it’s hard to describe.”
The two Region 6-AAAA rivals had played four times prior to the championship series. Marist won the regular-season meeting, then beat Redan two-of-three times in the region championships series.
“All the credit goes to the kids,” said acting Redan coach Chris Hardnett, who got the post-game water bucket bath.
The first game belonged to Redan’s Corderius Dorsey, who was the pitching and hitting star. The junior left-hander allowed only two hits and struck out two in a seven-inning complete game effort. Dorsey also went 2-for-4 with three RBI.
Dorsey had two big innings. In the first he shut down a Marist rally when the War Eagles had runners on the corners. He came up big again in the third inning when the first two Marist batters reached base, as he retired the next batters in order. He retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced, with Nick Carrier’s double the lone exception.
Redan staked Dorsey to a 2-0 lead by scoring single runs in the first two innings. Shortstop Wesley Jones had a solo homer in the first and Dorsey singled in a run in the second.
“That kind of pepped us up,” said Jones, who is expected to be chosen in the Major League Baseball draft.
Dorsey gave himself some breathing room with his hit in the sixth. Redan had runs at second and third with one out when Dorsey’s high chopoper bounded over the drawn-in infield and into left to score two. Redan put it away in the seventh with six runs, two of them coming on a two-run shot to dead center field by Miles Fore.
“Cordarious did a remarkable job,” Hardnett said. “He was 5-0 in the state playoffs. He kept them off balance and off stride all game.”
The losing pitcher was Michael Toner, who gave up five runs (only two earned) in 5.2 innings. Toner, who took a no-hitter in the ffith inning of his last start against Crisp County, had to work out of trouble all game. He had only one one-two-inning.
Redan jumped ahead 4-1 in the second game and hung on to win. The Raiders scored three times in the first, with starting and winning pitcher Brandon Baker driving in the first run and the others scoring on a bases-loaded fielding error. Redan added another run on an opposite-field double by Jones.
But Marist starter Sean Geunther began to hit the corners and keep the Redan hitters off stride by changing speeds. It allowed Marist to fight back with a run in the fifth on Devin Kalil’s RBI single and another in the sixth on Chris McGrath’s home run.
Baker, Redan’s ace pitcher who has signed with Missouri, was struggling in the later innings. But Hardnett refused to lift him and Baker somehow managed to pitch his way out of further damage.
“He’s been our No. 1 pitcher all year and even when he was struggling , he was the one I wanted out there,” Hardnett said.
Marist had the tying runner at second base on in the seventh against reliever Darian Osby, but could not get him around.