One last ride: Four Grangers and Coach Garner reunite for Georgia Dugout Club Senior All-State games

Published 8:30 am Saturday, June 3, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Full circle.

One of the first baseball coaches that LaGrange High graduates Trey Cook, Cole Garner, Preston Pressley and Seth Stargell had was Cole’s father, Craig Garner. He made quite the impression on the young ball players, who will get to suit up for him one last time when all four take part in the Georgia Dugout Club Senior All-State games on Saturday at Mercer University in Macon. The four players will suit up as members of the Southwest team for a pair of games. 

“It is sad these will be the last times that I play with these guys, but it is also exciting to get the chance to suit up with these guys again,” Stargell said. “We have been going at it for the last 10 years, whether it is with each other or against each other.”

Pressley said: “It is going to be surreal to get out there and play one more time with these guys.”

For Cole, it will be even more bittersweet as he shares the dugout with his father one final time.

“This will be our last game together as father and son, so I want to cherish every moment of it,” he said. 

It will likely be the final time the four suit up together. Seeing their time on the diamond together wind down is a bittersweet feeling for all four as they just donned their caps and gowns a week ago, but they are confident what they helped build will be sustained. 

“What we did on the field together is really special,” Pressley said. “It is a big deal, and I hope they continue to be good. They have a lot of good players left.”

Being a Granger means everything to these four. For Stargell, he is a lifelong Granger that has soaked up every minute in blue and white.

“Preston, some of the other players and I said after we lost in the second round of the playoffs my sophomore year that we wouldn’t let that happen again,” Stargell said. “To go to back-to-back state championships is special.”

For Cole, it was only one season as a Granger, but that lone year walking the halls of LaGrange High gave him memories that will last a lifetime.

“I was only here for a year, but it really was a great year and I cherished every moment of it,” Garner said. “I can’t wait to make some memories on Saturday.”

Three of the four will be playing college baseball with Cook deciding to pass on offers to attend the University of Georgia and give it a go as a walk-on. The thought of playing his last game with some of the guys he played his first games with is a bittersweet feeling for Cook.

“I haven’t really been thinking about these being my last games,” Cook said. “I don’t want it to end, so I have been trying not to put any pressure on these possibly being my last games.”

To watch young scrappy kids turn into all-star talent is what being in the dugout is all about to coaching legends in Troup County like Craig. 

“I was able to coach some of these guys as young as eight years old and to watch them progress from young boys to young men is what it is all about,” Garner said. “The maturity you see from them and the impact they have on kids younger than them makes me so proud. I couldn’t be more proud of all the things these guys have accomplished.”

The Grangers fifth member of the class of ‘23, Trevor Booton, was invited but could not attend. 

The LaGrange season ended just a couple of weeks ago and all the seniors hung their Grangers jerseys for the final time. But, for two games on Saturday, these four will get a bittersweet coda to their high school careers.