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Madison County’s Historic Run Ends In State Final Defeat

The 2017 Class 1A state runners-up Madison County Cowboys.

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The Madison County Cowboys had never played in a state championship game before Thursday afternoon, and they played with the same fire and passion that carried them on their historic run this season. Having left it all on the field, it was a tough reality as they watched the Trenton Tigers celebrate instead following a tough, 3-2 decision in the 1A state title game at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

“We fought the whole game, but the guy on the mound kept us off-balance at the plate and we didn’t hit like we normally do, and this was the result,” Cowboys manager Terry Barrs said. “But these guys made history and this had never been done before. The bar has been set high, and the seniors led us to this point and set the foundation for the next group. The next group will be back next year; so you can look for us here next year.”

Down by one, the Tigers (27-1) got the bats going for the winning runs in the top of the fifth inning. Wyatt Langford and Colton Rucker both walked and Jacob Guthrie dropped down an excellent bunt that went for a base hit that loaded up the bags. The Cowboys responded with a big defensive play for the first out, as Tyrique Baber sent a hot-shot that ricocheted off the pitcher’s right hand, where Trey Mitchell raced towards the mound from third base to grab the ball and fire home for the force out. But two wild pitches followed to allow courtesy-runner Wesley White and Guthrie to both score and put Trenton back in front for good.

Jaebion Mitchell hauls in pop fly for Madison County.

Trenton raced out of the chute to grab the lead in the top of the first inning. Michael Smith reached on an infield error and then advanced to second base on the strength of a sacrifice bunt from Chase Molloy. Randy Fuller then reached on a high infield popper, and both base runners broke on the following pitch to allow Smith to round third and score on a throwing error.

The Cowboys pride themselves on defensive fundamentals, which is a big part of their game. The guys move around well and cover some ground, which helped them escape the first inning with minimal damage done. Drew Herring snared a comebacker with the bases loaded and fired home for the force out and center fielder Kris Allen then ran in to snare a liner that ended the first.

“We work everyday on fundamentals,” Jaebion Mitchell said. “It pays off in the end.”

Madison County threatened to answer right back against Tigers junior starter Landon Kennedy in the bottom of the first. Trey Mitchell lined a single past first base and moved on to second off a passed ball. Catcher Dustin Bass walked and gave way to courtesy-runner Brinson Rye to put the go-ahead run on base, but the Tigers responded as Smith scooped up a roller along the left sideline, stepped on third base and then fired across the diamond for the inning-ending double-play.

Dilan Lawson finally got the Cowboys going in the bottom of the fourth. The sophomore shortstop ripped a liner just fair past third base and deep into the left field corner, and Lawson displayed great base-running to fly around the diamond and slide in ahead of the throw for a two-out triple. Jaebion Mitchell then put his team on the scoreboard as he lined a shot up the middle, forcing the second baseman to slide across the dirt to make the stop while Jaebion raced up the line to reach base ahead of the throw.

Drew Herring made the start for the Cowboys and pitched into the fifth inning.

Jaebion was not long for first base, as a passed ball allowed him to advance into scoring position. After Tre Adams worked a walk, Drew Annett laced a single just past the diving shortstop and Jaebion raced around third to score standing up and give Madison County a 2-1 lead.

“It was a great baseball game, and both sides competed,” Barrs said. “That’s the kind of baseball game that you want, but unfortunately we didn’t come out on top. You have to make decisions during the game and you have to think ahead, but we just had that little bump in the fifth inning and I think that was the difference in the game.”

With the season now over, only the memories remain. But Coach Barrs admitted he will never forget this group this season and what they will forever mean to this program.

“They have passion for the game,” Barrs said. “These guys are like me, and I think I reflect some off of them because I have a passion for the game. I study it a lot. These guys want to be the best that they can be, and I just think the results from these guys playing as a unit comes from the passion of the game.”

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