ROSWELL, Ga. — Blessed Trinity has been no stranger to success in Class AAA. The Titans captured three state championships, five region championships and have made the playoffs every year, advancing to the quarterfinals eight times in 12 seasons. In that span, the Titans have had 49 players go on to play at the collegiate or professional level.
It’s been a quite a run in Class AAA, but that run came to an end after last year with the GHSA’s reclassification of schools. The Titans, one of the most successful programs in the state since its inaugural season in 2001, now makes the leap to Class AAAA and will play in a new region that goes along with the rise in classification.
Titans head coach Andy Harlin, in his 16th season with the program, said the new classification and region is certainly a transition, but the three-time state champions will concentrate on competition — not changes.
“We are more geared toward the game versus how big the school is,” Harlin said.
“Georgia has good teams in all classifications. There are a lot of good teams and big-time players peppered throughout the state. There is definitely a high concentration in AAAA, so [the new classification] is definitely going to be a challenge but we are looking forward to it.”
BT’s new region includes three teams — West Hall, Chestatee and White County — that the Titans will be facing for the first time this season. The final team in the region, Marist, has won 12 state championships, most recently back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011, and has won over 20 games in seven of the last nine seasons.
“We have played Marist before, and we know what a great program they have,” Harlin said. “Their head coach Mike Strickland and I go way back, and we know he is going to have his kids prepared. He is a phenomenal coach.”
In their new region and new class, BT will be seeking its sixth straight region championship and fourth straight appearance in the state championship series.
Much of BT’s success the past few seasons has come thanks to its defense and pitching, which Harlin calls the “blood and guts” of baseball. In the past two seasons, the Titans have given up an average of just one run per game in 72 games.
“Our pitching coach, Jamie Wagner, does a great job and our assistant coaches do a great job preparing our guys defensively,” Harlin said. “Everyone loves the hitting side of the game, and we do that too, but we know how important the defensive side is.”
A sizeable chunk of last year’s defensive standouts were lost to graduation, including pitchers John Michael Bertrand and Hayden Lehman, as well as fielders Colin Dore, Conor Davis, Jake Bogosian and Garrett Dupuis.
“They were a dedicated group,” Harlin said. “A lot of those guys were on a couple of state championships and had been through the battles. They definitely left a pretty impressive legacy behind them.”
Harlin said with their absence he will look to this season’s senior class, which includes pitcher Peyton Glavine, outfielder Colin Davis, and infielders David Dunn and Jake Lundkovsky among others.
This year’s senior class will have high expectations. In their time with BT, they have gone to the state championship finals every year.
“These guys have been in the trenches in the big battles,” Harlin said. “They have seen the classes before them and they know what it takes. They have gone from being the young guys to experienced veterans and we look to them to lead us.”
Harlin said many positions, including his pitching rotation, have many great candidates. He says the final lineup will be settled on the field during non-region play.
The Titans streak of 49 straight wins, dating back to the 2015 season, ended last year, as did its run of consecutive state championships when the Titans were beaten late by Westminster in both losses in the state championship series.
Harlin said though he is aware it’s a cliché, the Titans will focus one game at a time this year.
“We don’t have any kind of record in sight or a goal to win a certain number of games. We can’t control all that stuff. You can do everything right and lose. We just want to compete. It’s a grind, and if you are looking too far ahead the concentration isn’t there, and it’s a very mental game.”
Blessed Trinity begins its season this Thursday against Cambridge.