For the second year in a row, the Georgia Highlands Chargers finished off their season with a GCAA Conference title. The Chargers went 18-7 in GCAA and 42-9 during their campaign and set a bevy of new standards for the program. Conner Todaro, who was a first team All-Conference selection in '21 upped the ante by slashing .382/.498/.691 with 15 doubles, 4 triples, 12 home runs, and 66 RBI's en route earning GCAA Player of the Year. Joining Todaro on the All-Conference Squad were catcher Ben Olson, designated hitter David Smith, first baseman Caden Smith, short stop Zayd Brannigan, and rightfielder Parker Poteet. Mick Moody (2B), Ethan Anderson (3B), and Todaro each claimed GCAA Gold Glove awards as well.
As if back to back GCAA crowns weren't enough, the Chargers took on the NJCAA Region 17 Tournament by storm, winning three straight to claim their second Region Championship under skipper Dash O'Neill. GHC trailed Gordon State 4-0 in the sixth inning of game one of the tournament when Zayd Brannigan was hit by a pitch to spark a rally. Following two more hit batsmen, Connor Todaro Drove Brannigan in with a single to right field to bring David Smith to the plate with the bases loaded. Down by three, Smith launched a go ahead grand slam over the right field wall and the Chargers never looked back. When the dust cleared, the Chargers had scored 10 runs in the frame and went on to win 13-11 in game one. In game two the Chargers bested South Georgia State 8-4, and when the Hawks eliminated ABAC in the loser's bracket it set the stage for a Georgia Highlands - South Georgia rematch for the championship.
On Championship Thursday, it was all GHC the whole way. Eric Moore held the Hawks scoreless through five innings and the Chargers used a 2 run third and a 3 run fifth to take command of the game. Cason Rich relieved Moore in the sixth inning and picked up where the big lefty left off, firing four scoreless innings to finish the game. The GHC offense would put up 8 more runs the rest of the way and the Chargers ran away with a 14-0 victory and the celebration was on.
Dash O'Neill smiled as he described watching his team hold up the Region 17 trophy. "I'm so happy for these guys right now. They have worked so hard to get to this moment, and after the way last season ended I knew they were on a mission. E-Mo (Moore) and Rich were unbelievable today and the lineup just kept on coming. These guys deserve this and I just feel blessed to get to be a part of it."
David Smith was named Tournament MVP with a team leading 8 RBI's in the event while Conner Todaro, Zayd Brannigan, and Eric Moore were also named to the team.
GHC (45-9) will continue their pursuit of a berth in the JUCO World Series next Tuesday when they head up to Walters State to play the Senators in the Appalachian District Championship. First pitch is at 2PM.