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SDG Angels reflect on dominant summer season
SDG Angels
The SDG Angels recently earned a third-place finish at the North Georgia State Championships. Pictured standing, (L-R): Luke Cross, Head Coach Andy Mitchell, Nolan Mitchell, Byron Johnson, Cooper Duncan, Colton Fincher, JD Smith, Gehrig Knapp, Lucas Langley, Braydon Smith, Assistant Coach Mike Brown. Kneeling (L-R): Caden Richardson and Caden Brown. - Contributed photo

The Covington-based SDG Angels completed their 2020 summer travel schedule this past weekend with a third-place finish in the 11-team North Georgia State Championships held at Rabbit Hill Park in Dacula.

The Angels wrapped up the tournament with a 3-1 record after losing in a semifinal game. 

Finishing with a 12-5 overall record, the 13U Angels reached the semifinals in all four of the Grand Slam Baseball tournaments they entered. 

SDG (Soli Deo Gloria, meaning Glory to God Alone) began its journey June 5-7 in the Back-to-Baseball Blowout held at Signature Park in Braselton. In heartbreaking fashion, the Angels lost 9-6 to the Lambert Longhorns — a team they defeated 9-3 in the qualifying round —  in the championship game to finish second in a field of seven teams. 

Not to be denied, the Angels next played in the 11-team June Jam Summer Series Week 3, held June 19-21 at Rabbit Hill Park in Dacula. SDG beat the Orange Crush from Clemson, S.C., 11-9 in the Championship game to finish 4-1 in the tournament. Crowned Tournament Champions on Father’s Day, each Angel was presented with a championship ring.  

A fourth-place finish in the nine-team Star-Spangled Slugfest in Dacula held July 4-5 followed. In what proved to be their toughest outing, the Angels finished 2-2 after being knocked out in the semifinals.  

Including two additional tournaments — the Southeastern Sports Tournament in Cumming, where they placed second, and the Perfect Game Tournament in Tyrone — the Angels finished 15-9 on the summer season. 

Standout performers for the Angels included Gehrig Knapp, who finished 7-1 with 27 1/3 innings pitched with 54 strikeouts. Knapp also had 21 RBI and stole 18 bases, all team-leading numbers. Lucas Langley was 3-1 pitching and added six triples and a home run to lead the Angels in those two categories. JD Smith led SDG in batting with a .558 average, runs scored with 35 and stolen bases with 18. Cooper Duncan added a team-leading 21 RBI. 

Colton Fincher was the winning pitcher in the June Jam Summer Series Week 3 Championship game. Nolan Mitchell came on in relief in the final inning with two outs, two on and the score 11-9 to earn the save.  

The Angels select travel team was started by Andy Mitchell in 2014. That original squad was a 8U team. This fall it will become a 14U team. Seven players have been with the Angels that entire time.

“The 2020 season was delayed getting started, but was a success. Each young man got a lot out of our workouts this summer and the battles we had together in games” said Angels Head Coach Andy Mitchell. “Wins are important, that’s why you play the games, but the development of each individual ballplayer and seeing them become good teammates, friends and grow in their faith is just as vital. We try to do that every season with the SDG Angels.”

A former standout at Heritage High School in Conyers, Georgia Tech and the Baltimore Orioles organization, Mitchell added: “In sports, you win or lose, but you have to learn from both. The successes make you love the game more and the failures have to motivate you to improve. I love each of our players and was happy to see them win a ton of games this summer.”