They say that baseball is a game of inches. On Thursday, that proved to be the case as Palmer Sapp's bottom of the ninth blast in the Region XVII title game was pulled back into the field to end the Chargers' record breaking 2021 season. While mere inches prevented GHC's season from continuing, skipper Dash O'Neill reflected on a historic season full of highlights and shattered records. "This team was just so much fun to be a part of, and I don't know if I have ever had a group that I've been more proud of. With a season getting cut short for these guys last year and so many different obstacles to navigate, this was a remarkable group of young men. They are conference champions, they are all over the post season award boards, and we have another group of sophomores moving on to great 4 year schools. I love these guys so much and the season they put together will be something they will take with them for the rest of their lives."
The list of post season accolades continues to pile up for the Chargers who landed a program best 6 players on the All-Conference Team: David Smith (C), Palmer Sapp (IF), Joe Sutton (IF), Conner Todaro (OF), Johnny Dow (P), and Conner Perry (P). Johnny Dow was also named GCAA/NJCAA Region 17 Pitcher of the Year. David Smith and Conner Todaro earned GCAA Gold Glove Awards for their excellence in the field and Johnny Dow, Joe Sutton, and Conner Todaro were each named to the Region 17 All-Tournament team. Brandon Prince was the baseball program's 5th consecutive Male Scholar Athlete recipient. GHC Head Coach Dash O'Neill was named GCAA Coach of the Year for leading the Chargers to the regular season title and league best 42 wins. In the coming weeks it is possible that even more accolaides will be headed GHC's way as All-American selections have yet to be made.
A bevy of program records fell in 2021, particularly on offense where the Chargers shined brightest. GHC set new marks in the following team categories: Wins (42), GCAA Wins (18), Complete Games (14), Walks Allowed (153), Hits (591), Runs (456), Runs Per Game (8.0), Doubles (125), Triples (24), Home Runs (56), RBI (414), Walks (253), Batting Average (.351), On Base Percentage (.451), Slugging Percentage (.553), OPS (1.004), Extra Base Hits (205), and Total Bases (932).
A slew of individual records fell in 2021 as well as Conner Todaro set new season marks for Batting Average (.435), Hits (87), Runs (66), Doubles (18), Triples (6), and On Base Percentage (.519). David Smith set a new record for RBI's with 62 on the year and Brandon Prince shattered the stolen bases record by swiping 40 bags this season. Johnny Dow tossed a record 5 complete games, including the first no-hitter by a single pitcher in GHC history. Conner Perry established a new record for strikeouts with 76 on the year and his 9 wins are also the most in program history. Chase Townsend added the program's second no hitter a few week's after Dow's gem.
As a team, the Chargers led the GCAA in 8 different primary offensive categories and 5 major pitching categories. They set a new stadard for winning streaks as well in 2021 after rattling off 15 consecutive victories in March. Ten Chargers will be moving on to continue their careers at four year institutions next year: Johnny Dow (Georgia State), Omar Daniels (Dayton), Joe Sutton (South Alabama), Chase Townsend (Kennesaw State), Brandon Prince (Georgia Tech), Trace Twardoski (Columbus State), Nic Castonguay (Montevallo), Gavin Harmon (Georgia Gwinnett), Palmer Sapp (Georgia College), and Carter Lott (Middle Georgia).
Here's to your 2021 Georgia Highlands College Chargers, GCAA Champions, Trojan Horse Series Champions, and NJCAA Region XVII Runner Up.