The big baseball news locally was the fact Loganville High School competed for another state championship on Tuesday.
While it has become common, almost routine, for this to happen each spring, it is still huge news on the local sports beat.
However, prior to the Red Devils playing for it all, two high school baseball coaches, who were also once local standouts, saw their teams face each other for another diamond championship.
One-time Loganville High School baseball great Brandon Moss is the coach of the Gatewood Gators. Moss and his team faced the Piedmont Academy Cougars, coached by former George Walton Academy standout Matt Britt, for the GISA Class AA baseball title.
The series was played May 21-22 at Mercer University and went to a third and deciding game before Britt’s Piedmont team emerged as champions.
Britt helped lead the George Walton Academy baseball team to a state championship back in the early 2000s. It was a scorching day in Macon when Britt and the Bulldogs defeated Stratford Academy and the same could be said for this past weekend when the team he was coaching played for and won it all.
Back during Britt’s time as a player, GWA lost the first game in the series but returned and won back-to-back games to win the championship. This time around his Cougars won the first game, fell in the second contest, and then rallied in the third game.
“The thing I remember most about winning it at GWA is being on the bottom of the dog pile,” said Britt, who played for coach Todd Shelnutt, who is still guiding the Bulldog program. “It seemed like a good idea at the time to be the first one out but then I was hoping everyone would clear off fast.”
Britt has coached at various schools in the GISA including Flint River Academy and Windsor Academy. He guided both of those programs to the state baseball finals only to fall short against Piedmont Academy, the school he now coaches at.
A multi-sport standout with the Bulldogs, Britt said he has fond memories of his playing career and hopes to give his 2021 team a chance to experience what it is like to be a state champion.
This time around Britt simply walked out of the Piedmont dugout once the final out was recorded. He stood and clapped in appreciation for his team’s accomplishment but did not take part in the 2021 dog pile.
As for his coaching counterpart, Moss was there in the early days of the LHS baseball dynasty. He helped lead the Devils to the championship series against Gainesville High School. Jeff Segars was in the initial stages of his incredible run at LHS and Moss was a key player on that state runner-up squad which had a long winning streak that season.
The two former Walton County standouts had actually seen their respective teams meet on the field twice in 2021 before the playoffs. Britt’s Piedmont Academy team won both regular season games but each one was close, including an extra-inning battle.
“The thing that bothers you the most about this series is trying to beat a good team like Gatewood four times in a season,” Britt said. “That is really tough to do.”
Moss has seen his Gatewood team steadily improve and post an impressive record in his first season of coaching. Both look forward to doing all they can to give their teams a chance to be back in 2022.
Back in their playing days, Moss and Britt were in different associations as GWA was in its pre-GHSA days. It was also during a time when GHSA and GISA athletic teams typically did not play each other even if they were located only a short drive apart.
Moss went on to a successful professional baseball career but once that ended jumped right into coaching. He has been involved in playoff games in Major League Baseball and helped the Boston Red Sox win a World Series.
The one-time LHS player hopes the players he now coaches can experience their ultimate goal.
“You always want to be the team standing on top, because that helps validate the hard work and dedication that you put in to get there,” Moss said.
The former LHS standout has quickly settled into his role at Gatewood. School officials were looking for stability within the program and are looking for Moss to provide that.
“We are glad things are back to normal with the playoffs and look forward to seeing how we do,” Britt said leading into the series.
Walton County was well represented in the GISA AA finals this season as Britt and Moss are both credited with running quality high school baseball programs. Don’t be surprised to see the two teams meet again with it all on the line next spring.