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Ogden walk-off wins BA back-to-back titles

“This is No. 1, I’ve never been a part of anything like this. The way these kids kept fighting, this is No. 1,” said a grinning Brookhaven Academy head coach Tyler Parvin.

Fresh from having a cooler of water dumped on his back, Parvin was ranking what happened Thursday night at Williams-Gillis Ballpark with the two previous state championships he’d won as a Cougar. The first in 2010 as the winning pitcher in a title clinching victory and another as a head coach last season.

Junior Nick Ogden had just laced a single to score fellow junior Brady Spring from second to give BA an 8-7 win over Tri-County Academy and a sweep of the MAIS AA State Championship series.

The Cougars (21-9) dogpiled in the infield, the Rebels (19-10) looked on in shock after being swept for a second straight season by BA in the final series, and a sea of family and friends poured onto the field for photo opportunities with the state championship trophy.

It was an unexpected ending after how things started for the Cougars. TCA leadoff batter Garrett Ford had homered on the first pitch he saw as the Rebels jumped to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Ford hit two home runs Tuesday in the four-hour slugfest that the Cougars won 15-13 on the road.

Brookhaven Academy sophomore left-hander Caston Thompson had a simple explanation for his early struggles.

“I was nervous,” said Thompson. “I knew we’d hit the ball eventually, but I was shaky out there at first.”

Notice Thompson said eventually. The Cougar captain — senior Dawson Flowers — said being slow starters is an identity the team has become comfortable in.

“It just feels like we start slow every game,” said Flowers. “We’ve come back being down so many times this season and nobody panics when the other team goes up. Doesn’t matter if it’s four or five runs, we’ve got guys who are going to just keep chipping away.”

BA got on the board in the bottom of the second when Ogden scored on an error. The Cougars had runners on first and third, but the Rebs killed the inning with a double play. The previous inning Flowers was on third and saw the frame ended when he was picked off.

In the third Spring smacked a double that scored Collin Waldrop and Cade Brown. Waldrop had started the inning with a single and Brown was then hit by a pitch. The Cougars cut the lead to 4-3 but ended the inning with a pair of runners on base.

TCA again used the long ball to stretch their lead with a three-run home run by big senior Trace White in the bottom of the fourth to go up 7-3.

Down three early and to pull within one run — just to see TCA use one hit to jump back up by four runs — those types of swings of the game might shake most teams, but not this group.

“Coach told us when they had us down four runs in the fourth we had them right where we want them,” said Brown.

BA made their move in the bottom of the seventh when Brown led the inning off with a single. Spring reached on a single and Thompson was hit by a pitch to juice the bases with Cougars.

TCA was on their third pitcher of the inning when Ogden stepped to the plate and hit a two RBI single to make the game 7-5.

With two outs eighth grader Judson Griffin hit a single that scored one run. Later Waldrop hit a ball that was played for a TCA error and allowed Ogden to cross as the tying run.

After Dawson Walters of Tri-County singled to start the seventh Parvin pulled Thompson and replaced him on the mound with Flowers. The senior had started game one Tuesday night and gave up six runs (two earned) on three hits. He got an early hook after tossing 3.2 innings and 58 pitches.

“I knew that Dawson would be the first reliever we used,” said Parvin. “The plan was for Caston to take us as far as he could and then have Dawson ready. Then if we had a game three situation we’d still have Tanner Watts left among other guys.”

Thompson’s final line was 104 pitches thrown, four strikeouts, and two walks. He gave up seven runs (four earned) on nine hits.

Flowers was dialed in during his single inning of relief. He got a groundout for the first out of the inning and then fielded a comebacker to end the frame with a double play. Flowers turned and fired the ball to Spring covering second. Spring made the throw to Thompson on first and the stage was set for the Ogden game winner.

Spring scored from second after hitting a two-bagger with one out in the seventh. Thompson then struck out before Ogden ended things with his two-out single. The junior said his coach gave him the green light before he stepped into the box.

“From the fourth inning on we were taking pitches until we got a called strike,” said Parvin. “Tri-County knew that too. Right before the at-bat I told Nick if you get a fast ball right down the middle swing at the pitch.”

Ogden saw it and hit it just like his coach told him to and gave the gritty group of Cougars their 10th straight win in the biggest game of the season.

“Coach said take a deep breath and if he throws you a fastball take care of it,” said Ogden. “I trusted my coach and that’s what I did.”