Maybe Latta finally found a power outlet in its dugout.
In the sixth inning of Friday night’s third and decisive game of the 1A baseball state title series against Lewisville, the Vikings pounded out six extra-base hits in the frame to overturn a three-run deficit and win a state championship 6-4.
“This was definitely a roller coaster game,” said Lewisville coach Billy Keels. “This was really the only game of the three where both teams played like they’re supposed to, so I’m glad both teams played well. For those boys to come back, down 4-1 in the sixth inning and do what they did, that shows that (Don) Cribb is a heck of a coach and they have a resilient bunch of kids.”
Lewisville sophomore Drew Colvin started on the mound and pitched well, allowing just two hits and a run through the first five innings. But he ran aground in the sixth.
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Eric McGirt walked and catcher Cledus Williams tanked a ball over the left field fence, the first of six extra-base hits in the frame for the Vikings and the senior’s first dinger of the year. Momentum was squarely in the Vikings’ court when Jackson Williams followed with a missile over the tall wall in centerfield for a 4-4 tie.
“We hit a lot of at-’em balls early,” said Cribb. “I give them credit. That pitcher was good. He was super, but I felt like we had a chance if we could just get something going, and Cledus hits his first home run of the year and Jackson comes right behind him and they just caught fire. We’ve been kind of a streaky team like that.”
That was all for Colvin, but Trey Keels and Austin Bradshaw didn’t fare much better, each surrendering an RBI double before Bradshaw got the Lions into the dugout, down 6-4.
Lewisville tried to answer in the bottom half. But Austin Bradshaw was called out for leaning over the plate when it appeared he was hit by Latta pitcher J.K. Love. That proved decisive when Alex Reed got on via an error and Thomas Brannen walked. It would’ve been bases loaded with one out.
“He said he put his elbow over the entire plate,” Keels said about the umpire. “I asked my kid, he said he was trying to protect his chest and he didn’t lean over the plate. I don’t want to make excuses.”
Instead, a ground ball got Love and Latta out of the inning. Lewisville put two Lions on in the bottom of the seventh, but Love mowed down the final two batters to clinch the title for the Vikings.
“He got better as he went,” said Cribb about Love, the College of Charleston signee who struck out 10 batters. “But he’s a big-game pitcher. No bigger stage than tonight.”
Latta took an early lead, scoring in the first. Williams singled and then scored from first when a mix-up in the Lewisville outfield allowed Love’s single to drop.
The Lions struggled to get any thing going offensively, with Love, the 6-foot-7 righty, striking out five consecutive Lions at one stretch. But an error in the bottom of the fourth put Cody Montgomery on first, and he scored shortly thereafter when Love chucked a wild pitch to the backstop to tie the score at 1.
Lewisville continued to surge, taking the lead in the fifth. Love plunked the first two batters and Evan Sisk scratched out an infield single to load the bases. Montgomery’s RBI ground-out, and a trick early steal call by Lewisville’s coach made it 3-1, before Denver Mosley delivered an RBI single into the left field corner to make it 4-1.
But the more experienced Vikings surged in the following inning, while Lewisville, with just six seniors and a number of underclassman contributors, fell apart in the decisive sixth.
“This is the third year in a row Latta has played for the state,” said Keels. “They’ve been in front of the big crowd and in front of all the hoopla. I guess it was third time’s a charm there.”
Losing the last two made Friday night’s win that much sweeter for the Vikings and their coach.
“Oh man,” said Cribb, heading up to accept the first place trophy. “I wouldn’t trade it for nothin’ in the world.”
Latta 6, Lewisville 4
WP- J.K. Love; LP- Drew Colvin.
Leading hitters: Latta- Jackson Williams 2-3, HR; Cledus Williams 1-3, 2 RBI HR; Jonathan Ray 1-3, RBI 2B; Austin Miller 1-3, RBI 2B. Lewisville- Denver Mosley 1-3, RBI 1B, BB; Trey Keels 2-4.
Records: Latta 23-7; Lewisville 21-10.