Lone Grove baseball wins Class 3A Regional championship
LONE GROVE — It’s safe to say that no undefeated squad wants to suffer its first loss of the season, especially after winning 35 straight games. However, the experience can sometimes pay off in the end.
That might be the case for the Lone Grove baseball team as the Longhorns bounced back from their first setback with a 15-1 victory over Washington on Saturday to clinch a spot at the Class 3A State Tournament.
“That loss Friday was really good for us,” said Lone Grove head coach Tyler Pybas. “It’s one of those deals, ‘Sometimes in life you get kicked in the pants or hit in the face and it’s about how you react to it and how you respond to it.’ Our guys did — they hit it well, we pitched it well.
“Gavin Peery making that diving play and Kyle Miller sliding over to shortstop making some plays,” Pybas continued. “The dugout was awesome. They were in the ball game. I have the best assistant coaches in the state and great administration. It’s just a great day to be Longhorn.”
Jace Brandenburg is likely to agree with his coach after tossing a gem during his final home start on the mound. The senior allowed one hit, struck out seven and walked just two in five innings of work.
“I knew last night with Jace going today that we had a fantastic shot at winning because he’s a competitor, a senior and he wants the baseball,” Pybas said. “These last couple of weeks, he’s been pitching really well. His curveball has been sharp. He kept those guys off balance. What a great day for a senior to make the state tournament.”
And his outing was even more important after being tagged out on the base path as the game-tying run Friday night in an 8-7 setback to Washington.
“This means the world to me,” Brandenburg said. “I didn’t want this to be the last game. We got our first loss Friday night and I think that was the best thing that could happen for us. I slipped and fell on the last play and got the last out. I think it just fired us all up. As you can see, we just came out here and we were firing on all cylinders today — the whole team.”
Conner King led the way with three hits, including a double, and drove in three runs, while the first three batters in the lineup combined six hits and six RBIs.
Kyle Miller went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, while Gavin Peery added a pair of hits and drove in two runs and Jackson Grace finished with two base knocks.
Cale McLean rounded out the top performers with a hit and an RBI.
“Friday woke us up,” Peery said. “One hit led to another. We just kept it rolling.”
That was the case in the second inning as the Longhorns put up 10 runs to stun Washington before adding one in the third and four more in the fourth.
Lone Grove, which opened regional action on Thursday with wins over Perry and Valliant, now wait for the Class 3A State Tournament bracket to be released on Monday, May 10.
The Longhorns will play their first game on Thursday, May 13 at Choctaw High School.