After two closely-contested games on Thursday, someone unfortunately had to go between Madill and Lone Grove.

After two closely-contested games on Thursday, someone unfortunately had to go between Madill and Lone Grove.

In game 3, the Wildcats made sure it wasn’t them.

Jake Vinson tossed a seven-hit, eight strikeout complete game on the mound, and Madill rallied twice from one-run deficits to win the Class 4A district championship 4-3 over Lone Grove on Friday. The two teams split games the previous day, setting up the win-or-go-home Game 3 on a warm day at Longhorn Field.

Through a combination of small ball and key hits, Madill (18-9) pushed across the winning run in the sixth inning.

“Every day in practice, we bunt, bunt, bunt, bunt,” said Vinson.

Batting as the home team, the Wildcats started the sixth with a Joe Avery single. Shelby Salyer and Shadow Marris provided back-to-back sacrifices (bunt, fly ball) to put Avery on third with the winning run.

Hunder Chapa came through, hitting an infield single that took a wicked hop on Lone Grove second baseman Bryce Newton to score Avery. The Wildcats’ fundamental final at-bats were a part of a combined five sacrifice bunts or fly balls for the Madill in the game.

“We’ve had a few better teams with higher marks (records), but this group is special,” Madill coach Randy Rushing said. “They’ve played these kids a lot growing up together, and I hate that one had to lose. Those were three good games between two good teams.”

Vinson’s grit on the mound was almost matched by Lone Grove senior Jacob McClennahan, who only allowed seven hits over six innings of work. McClennahan struck out two and walked none in the loss.

McClennahan got Lone Grove started in the first inning with a two-run double, and added an RBI single in the top of the fifth. But Madill didn’t waver, even after going down early.

Holden Cass led off the first with a double, and Gage Goff pulled back a run with an RBI single. Madill took the lead briefly in the fourth on back-to-back RBI singles by Chapa and Cass with two outs.

McClennahan got two quick fly outs in the inning before consecutive infield errors by Lone Grove kept Madill alive.
The Longhorns, who finished the year 17-12, sat in the dugout stunned at game’s end.

“It was definitely the toughest season we’ve had in all my four years.” said Lone Grove senior Dylan Ward, who finished 3-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored. “But Madill has definitely improved from when I was a freshman to now. They’re a tough team, and I wish them the best of luck.”

Vinson got into trouble a few times, but was able to escape. He dodged a bases-loaded jam in the third with a strikeout, and his defense backed him up in key spots.

Ward led of the seventh with a double for Lone Grove, but Cass was able to throw to third on McClennahan’s grounder to short, and Boo Ecobedo made the tag to eliminate the scoring threat.

From there, Vinson took care of the rest, getting a strikeout and a fly ball to end the competitive series.

McClennahan and R.J. Jimenez were each 2-for-4 for the Longhorns. Avery and Chapa were 2-for-3 for Madill and Cass went 2-for-4. Chapa drove in two runs.

Lone Grove won Game 1 4-3, while Madill took Game 2 6-1 on Thursday.

“We stranded too many baserunners,” Lone Grove coach Jeremy Turner said. “We competed hard, but we didn’t get the big hits through the series.

“Madill didn’t do anything to help us. They played great defense. And three complete game pitching performances says a lot.”

Vinson said he had an idea of what to do with the Lone Grove lineup ... and an idea of what was behind him in the field.”

“I knew the hard biting curveball they’d have a hard time with,” Vinson said. “I love my teammates and I knew they had my back.”

Erik K. Horne