Apr. 23—Four years ago, coach Trent Mongero came into the Golden Isles looking to transform the baseball culture at Glynn Academy, and the 2021 senior group is a testament to that change and how far it's come.
The Terrors took on Statesboro on Wednesday night, with a region title on the line and possibly a higher seed in the state playoffs, but fell just short as the Blue Devils won 7-4.
It was a close game between the two teams until the fifth inning, when Statesboro added three runs to take the lead. Both groups had 10 hits apiece, but the Blue Devils just found a way to score when it counted down the stretch.
"Tonight was a tough one. I felt like it was a good game early on — it could have went either way," Mongero said. "We just weren't able to catch any breaks, and they played a complete ballgame on their side. Their pitcher did a heck of a job, and they had some key hits when they had to have them.
"We know we got to go up there now and take care of business on Friday. If we could win Friday, we would be the two seed, and we will be playing at home. Most people that have seen the bracket feel like the two route is the best ride anyway. So we got to take care of business on Friday."
One of the seniors, Blake Wood, got the start on the mound. He gave up five runs on seven hits while striking out six. Tom Echols came in for one inning of relief, and then fellow senior Joe Cutia finished out the final inning.
"Blake competed hard. His pitch count got up, so we eventually had to get him out of the game, but he competed his rear end off and gave us a chance," Mongero said.
Mongero said he felt like his team did a better job at the plate and finally got over that two-run hump, but that this time of the season can be unpredictable at times.
"I've been doing this 30 years now, and the end of the season can be crazy," Mongero said. "Sometimes you have all the momentum in the world, and everything works out for you, and sometimes you keep getting punched in the gut.
"I feel like that's what keeps happening to us — for whatever reason, we keep getting punched in the gut. We're going to come out fighting, and I believe in this team. I love these guys, and they've worked their tails off. We need a break, and then we're going to start rolling. Hopefully, we still got a lot of baseball left to play."
Despite the loss, it was still a special night for the seniors. Even the Statesboro head coach bragged about how hard Glynn plays — going as far to say the grittiest and toughest bunch they've faced.
Glynn's graduating nine seniors are Cutia, Brady Davis, Drew Devlin, Cam Gee, Tyler Motos, Shaun Munoz, Kam Smith, Wood and Ethan Reynolds.
Mongero said while the game didn't go their way, he was just happy they got to have a senior night after last season got cut short.
"Whenever you start to feel down about maybe not having a shot at a region championship — this time last year, there was no baseball, and we were trying to find a way to honor our seniors who had lost their entire season," Mongero said. "So we are getting to play, and these guys were freshmen when I came in, and they've come a long way.
"They love one another, and they've committed to the program. Commitment means through the good and bad. They're going through this to the very end as a family, and that means the world to me."
Mongero talked about how this group had grown so much in four years on and off the field. This class has set the tone for the kind of culture he wants at Glynn Academy.
"The goal is, you want your seniors to pass a torch that's worth passing — meaning they need to set an example for the younger players," Mongero said. It's a legacy, and that's what these guys have done. When you're building a program, that's how it has to happen.
"They're leaving a torch that's worth carrying, and the program is going to be in really good hands. The young guys watch what these guys do — our JV players, our juniors, and they're better for it."
Mongero said he feels like his program is where he wants it to be in terms of culture. While they had the goal to be region champions, it's so much more than just what they do on the baseball field. It's how the guys carry themselves in the classroom, weight room and other places when no one else is around. He said the seniors our years ago wouldn't do what this group does. Regardless of who's there, this class sticks to the task and has stayed focused.
"Building culture and building character, not that I'm perfect, because I'm not, but that just takes time," Mongero said. "It takes going through bumps and bruises, weeding out the guys that don't belong and don't represent the culture and, rewarding the guys that do. Every year the guys have worked harder, and they're more committed.
"It takes four to six years to get it rolling if everybody's on board. A testament to this program is our community support. We have a tremendous booster club — tremendous. It's a family, and these parents are amazing. I have no parental issues, and they support our program and the coaches. Some of these seniors have not got a chance to play a lot, and they still show up every day with a smile on their faces. They work hard waiting for that opportunity, and as a coach, that's all you can ask for."
Glynn Academy travels to Statesboro today for Game 3 against Statesboro, where a win would solidify the No. 2 seed in the GHSA 6A state playoffs and hosting the first round.