Dynamic Duo: Lifelong friendship between pitchers leads Grangers to back-to-back championship appearances
Published 2:20 pm Thursday, May 18, 2023
LaGrange seniors Trevor Booton and Trey Cook are now the top two pitchers on the Granger baseball team making its second consecutive appearance in the AAAA state championship series, but the number two has special significance to this duo, it is the age these two first met and began to forge a friendship that would define them in ways they could never have foreseen at such a young age.
The two met at church nearly 16 years ago and little did anybody know at the time that one of the most important friendships in the history of LaGrange baseball was just starting. The two have come a long way since those days. Over the years, they have both fallen in love with the same sport, baseball; the same position, pitcher; and the same team, LaGrange. It was not always that way. The two used to be on different teams in parks and rec baseball, with Auburn committed Booton lining up in the outfield, a prospect he could never imagine now.
“I started really pitching around nine years old with (LaGrange) coach (Donnie) Branch,” Booton said. “I just played wherever I could play, but I spent a lot of time in the outfield.”
Cook interjected by saying, “He was a better third baseman than he was an outfielder. You should come by batting practice one day and see him in the outfield, whew.”
The two relish the chance to be teammates now, though their competitive edge does make them long for the days they could line up against each other.
Cook said: “He was probably scared when he saw me (laughs). I can’t lie, I was always excited to play him.”
One of the aspects of their games that sets them out is the fact that Cook is one of the most accomplished hitters on the Grangers white Booton only gets an at-bat in a game LaGrange has no chance of losing.
“Sophomore year I started off with seven strikeouts in a row and that was the end of my hitting career,” Booton said, laughing. “Before that, I could hit though. Between the ages of 12 and 15, I could hit pretty well.
“I got my first varsity at-bats and struck out in the first two times I went up.”
Cook got moved up to the lead-off spot partway through his junior season and it has been a perfect fit for the senior. His on base percentage is hovering around .500 this season.
“When it’s practically a coin flip that your lead-off guy will get on base, that is amazing,” Booton said.
It is a friendship that was built away from the diamond but grew even stronger over the years as they found so much joy playing baseball. The two have fond memories of Atlanta Braves spring games together a decade ago, dreaming of a chance to be a part of a special baseball team. The Granger blue and white called them home from a young age. Leading LaGrange to two of its three state championship appearances in program history is a dream come true for both senior stars.
Cook never got the chance to pitch his sophomore season, so the two had to wait to become the dominant pair of pitchers they would become. Fast forward to 2022 and a healthy Cook slotted in as the no. 2 pitcher as Booton got the chance to be the no.1 pitcher after serving as the no. 2 pitcher the season prior. It was an instant success as the two helped pitch the Grangers to the state championship series against North Oconee last season.
There was something more than friendship between the two as there is a real admiration for one another’s game on the field.
“Trey used to throw that gas back in rec ball,” Booton said with a chuckle. “I can tell you that much. It was the hardest pitch I had ever seen in my life.”
Cook said about Booton: “Trevor has always been super confident whether it was with math or baseball or anything.”
When they look back at photos over the years, one thing always stands out — Booton has always towered over Cook. The size difference has been prevalent all of their life even now as Booton stands well over 6 feet tall.
“Believe it or not, I used to be way shorter than him, even more than now,” Cook said. “I just cracked five feet my freshman year.”
Booton and Cook’s competitive nature is what has allowed their friendship to blossom, especially when they started channeling their competitive spirits to the same cause.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s baseball or those multiplication tables we used to do back in the day, if Trevor wasn’t first he would start to get mad,” Cook said.
The competitive spirit goes beyond the baseball diamond for both young men, so much so that Cook, who is continuing his academic career at the University of Georgia in the fall, will refuse to watch Auburn-Georgia football games in the fall to avoid hearing Booton trash talk his beloved Bulldogs.
While the two will be heading their separate ways in the fall, their friendship will remain intact. While Booton’s baseball path is clear, Cook’s is a little more murkier. He hopes to walk-on at UGA but is content if his baseball career comes to an end after this season. Regardless, Cook is already marking down the days until Auburn travels to Athens, so that Booton will have at least one fan/heckler in the stands.