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Loyd Star wins South State, advances to championship series

By Dave Linton

In a thrilling winner-take-all game three between Loyd Star and St. Joseph Saturday, the Hornets needed a seventh inning rally to bring home the 2A South State championship.

Loyd Star defeated St. Joseph 10-9 with a bases-loaded walk that sent the winning run across the plate in the bottom of the seventh. Bradyn Brister battled back after getting behind in the count 0-2 to draw the walk.

“I want to give a shoutout to freshman Tanner Watts for the work he did in game three of the South State championship. He’s proven he’s a winner and a gutsy performer, and he had another gutsy performance. He carried us to the seventh inning,” Loyd Star coach Jared Britt said. “Hats off to Coach Gerard McCall and the St. Joseph Bruins. They’re running a great class act program. Being down by five runs and being able to fight back in the seventh inning speaks volume for their program.”

“I also got to give recognition to my guys, for finding a way to win the game,” he said. “James Beard’s triple was a big hit and being able to score him settled us down again. Bradyn Brister came up clutch, battling back from being down 0-2, to draw the RBI walk.”

Despite both teams getting runners on in the first inning, both pitchers were able to get key groundouts and strikeouts to keep the game scoreless after one full inning.

St. Joseph would strike first in the second inning. With two outs, Nick Thompson hit a RBI single into right field, scoring Chad Doiron from second base.

The Hornets would take the lead in the bottom of the second, scoring four runs. With two outs and runners on first and second, sophomore Dane Smith hit an RBI single, scoring senior Parker Flowers from second base. With the bases loaded, Cade Hodges nailed a bases-clearing double.

The Hornets would add three more runs in the third. Junior Dylan Smith reached first on an throwing error by the Bruins. Dane Smith followed with a two-run RBI double. The Bruins were able to get out of the inning, throwing Flowers out at third and getting Hodges to fly out to right center. The Hornets led 7-1 going into the fifth inning.

The Bruins scored two runs in the top of the fifth. With two outs and runners on the corners, the Bruins scored on a bad throw to first base. John Turner brought in the other run on an RBI single.

The Hornets answered with one run in the bottom of the fifth when Flowers blasted a lead off homerun.

Trailing 8-3 heading into the seventh inning, the Bruins needed a rally to stay in the game. The Bruins loaded the bases several times and scored six runs to take the lead away from the Hornets at 9-8.

The Hornets needed a rally of their own to keep their chances of a South State championship alive. Sophomore James Beard got the Hornets started with a one-out triple. Hodges followed with an RBI single, tying the game.

The winning run crossed the plate after a bases-loaded walk.

Tanner Watts got the start for the Hornets, striking out four batters, walking one and giving up seven hits. Dane Smith and Konner Allen, one hit and one strikeout, also pitched in relief for the Hornets. Senior Jack Garrad — three strikeouts five hits, three walks, seven runs (six earned) — started for the Bruins.

Beard had a triple and two singles for the Hornets. Dane Smith had a double and two singles. Flowers had a homerun. Tucker Watts had two doubles. Bradyn Brister had a double. Hodges hit a single.

The Bruins’ Thompson had a single and double. Junior Trey Frieson had a single and a three-run RBI triple. Nick Louvier, Chad Doiron, Chad Welch, John Turner and Michael Buck each had a single.

Loyd Star moves to 35-2 on the season. Loyd Star’s next game is Wednesday against East Union.