Lone Grove baseball's historic season ends with loss to Holland Hall at 3A State Tournament

Beau Bearden
The Daily Ardmoreite
The Longhorns were dealt just their second loss of the 2021 campaign on Thursday during a 4-3 season-ending setback to Holland Hall at the Class 3A State Tournament in Choctaw.

CHOCTAW — As the old saying goes, “all good things must come to an end,” but it’s still a tough pill to swallow once the journey is over.

That fact hit hard for the Lone Grove High School baseball team on Thursday as the historic 2021 campaign ended with a 4-3 setback to Holland Hall during the opening round of the Class 3A State Tournament.

“Our guys are fighters, scratchers and clawers — I don’t care if we’re down 4-1 or 10-0, we’re fighting until the very last out,” said Longhorns head coach Tyler Pybas. “… It’s one of those deals where we had opportunities, but these guys are winners. I don’t care what the scoreboard shows, these guys are winners and they’re going to be winners in life. They’re great young men. What a season.”

Lone Grove lived up to Pybas' words by inching within striking distance with a pair of runs in the sixth inning. Gavin Peery started the frame with a single and Jace Brandenburg followed it up with double to put both in scoring position.

Jaxon Lee connected on an RBI single and Blayde Wilkerson’s fielder’s choice drove in Brandenburg to bring the Longhorns within a run.

Unfortunately, Lone Grove couldn’t complete the rally in the seventh as the magical year came to a close.

“This is going to be a tough one to get over, but this is a season that our guys and I will never forget,” Pybas said.

Lone Grove fans packed the bleachers Thursday to cheer on the Longhorns against Holland Hall during the Class 3A State Tournament.

And the Longhorns’ 36-2 record will be tough for future squads to top, especially since this group moved up the ranks with Pybas. He was an assistant during their freshman year and they continued the journey with him as head coach for the past three seasons.

“It’s emotional,” Pybas said. “I love these guys like they’re my own kids. They’re family to me and they always will be. They brought Lone Grove baseball back on the map where it belongs. Words can’t express what these guys mean.”

Those emotions were apparent in the dugout as the reality sunk in that the season was over.

However, Lone Grove can take solace in outhitting Holland Hall by a 9-7 margin, with eight of the nine Longhorn starters tallying a base knock in the game. Brandenburg led the way with a pair of hits, while Wilkerson, Jaxon Lee and Cale Sudderth each drove in a run.

Meanwhile, Brandenburg yielded one run and struck out a batter in three innings of relief and Kort McCurtain tallied three strikeouts with three earned runs in three innings of work.

Lone Grove took an early 1-0 advantage on Sudderth’s sacrifice fly in the second inning. Holland Hall responded with three runs in the fourth and an insurance run in the fifth before the Longhorns answered with a pair in the sixth.