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BA brings home state title — Cougars end the season in game 2 of the series with a 5-inning, run-rule state championship victory

Levi Smith came to the plate in the top of the fifth inning on Friday in his last high school at-bat with a chance to extend Brookhaven Academy’s 10-3 lead.

The bases were loaded and Smith, admittedly, just wanted to put the ball in play and give his team a chance to add another insurance run to the scoreboard.

The senior hadn’t been much of a power threat his entire career, so he just wanted a single, walk, hit-by-pitch, an error, a strikeout and wild pitch, anything that would push the runner at third across the plate to extend the Cougars’ lead.

Instead the senior hit a ball over the left-field wall for what he said was the first homerun of his life to give the Cougars a 14-3 lead. Brookhaven Academy would finish off the five-inning, run-rule state championship victory the next inning with a 14-4 victory over Tri-County Academy.

“I just wanted to do anything I could to give my team a bigger lead,” Smith said. “I hit it, and I didn’t know it was gone. Then everybody was going crazy, and I realized it was gone.”

Brookhaven Academy head coach Tyler Parvin said Smith hitting the homerun was one of the happier moments of his coaching career.

“Those are the moments that give you goose bumps,” Parvin said. “If you had told me he was going to do that four years ago as a ninth grader, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s amazing how hard (Smith) has worked and the baseball player that he has become.”

The Cougars got off to a slow start, as Dawson Flowers gave up two unearned runs in the first inning to let the Rebels take an early lead.

Flowers wouldn’t let the Rebels put another number on the scoreboard, as he threw five innings in the contest and only gave up four runs with two of them earned and four strikeouts.

“I found out that I was starting yesterday, and I was ready to go,” Flowers said. “I knew that I needed to stay in the strike zone.”

Parvin said he went with Flowers in the second game of the series because he had no intention of playing a third game, so he wanted his best out on the mound.

“(Flowers) is the ultimate competitor,” Parvin said. “He gave us everything that he had tonight, and I’m proud of him. He was a bulldog on the mound.”

The Cougars put together a nine-run third inning to erase the 2-0 Rebel lead behind RBI base-hits from O’Neil Burgos, Tucker Watts, Tanner Watts, Taylor Freeny, Dawson Zumbro and Flowers.

Tucker Watts was stellar behind the plate for the Cougars as he threw out two baserunners attempting to steal.

“It doesn’t matter how good your arm is, so you have to be prepared to throw people out,” Watts said. “I love being able to throw people out.”

Parvin said he knew this team was special over spring break when they competed heavily with 6A power Warren Central, and even though the Cougars fell short he knew how good this team could be.

That all came to fruition for the Cougars on Friday night in Flora when O’Neil Burgos caught a line drive and stepped on first base to end the game and give the Cougars their first state championship since 2010.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these kids,” Parvin said. “They worked so hard, and this is what they deserve.”

Watts said winning the state championship was an extremely special moment that he’s glad he got to experience again. Watts won the state championship as a member of Loyd Star’s baseball team last season.

“To win one this year was special,” Watts said. “This is something I’ll always remember.”