State championship baseball should be one of, if not the best game you see all year long. This one will go down as an instant classic, as the Beckville Bearcats made history by topping Clifton in 10 innings, 5-4, in the state championship game on Saturday morning from the Dell Diamond. The 10-inning affair ties the record for the longest state championship game.
It was the first state title for Beckville in three tries at state. A good portion of this team was at the state championships back in 2016 as sophomores, and they were simply not going to be denied this second go-around.
“I could not me more proud of our guys to go out this way,” said Beckville coach Jason Causey. “I cannot tell you enough the quality of guys I have. They deserve all the cred and I’m just here for the ride.”
The Bearcats were down to their last strike in the bottom of the seventh, trailing 4-3, before a Michael Mize single extended the inning. Ben Bridges, whom also had two strikes on him, proceeded to hit a ground ball that got by the third baseman and into the corner, allowing Mize to come all the way around and score.
In the 10th, Zeke Collins was up with the bases loaded and one out with a chance to win it. A ground ball was slowly hit to the third baseman, but a play could not be made, and that ended it.
Beckville used a total of four different pitchers in the game. Ethan Harris got the nod on the mound, but Causey noticed that it was just not his day and pulled him after two complete innings of work and two runs given up. From that point, Bryce Osborn (2.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 K), Zeke Collins (1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 K) and Austin Bryan (4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K) did not allow an earned run.
Bryan had closed out the semifinal with with 1.2 innings worked and was up to the task of coming back on day two to secure a ring.
“Everyone on this team can pitch except one,” said Bryan. “We can get into situations and we have pitchers that can get us out of them.”
Offensively, Beckville’s big inning came in the fourth, when they pushed across three runs to take a 3-2 lead. Ethan Harris and Ty Jones both singled to begin the frame and Clayton Burnett was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no one out. Bryce Osborn walked to cut the deficit to 2-1 before Brandt Harris hit a hard, ground ball passed the third baseman for 2 RBI. That hit earned the senior the MVP plaque.
“It shows that I worked hard for my team,” said Harris on the honor. “We are a family and I have to do whatever I can to help them, and they will do whatever they can to help me.”
Each pitching staff was taxed with some high-pressure situations, as the Bearcats left a total of nine runners on base while Clifton stranded 14.
Clifton starter Mason Brandenberger had a strong effort, tossing the first 6.2 innings, giving up just five hits and three earned runs while striking out 10.
Brandenberger struck out five of the first six batters faced before the Bearcats started to settle in.
“It’s a big atmosphere and it kind of had us a little nervous, but after that first inning we got it out of our system and were ready to go,” said Harris.
Though baseball at Beckville has come to an end for 10 seniors, there is really no other way they could have dreamed of going out – as state state champions.
“It feels great,” said Harris. “That year (2016) we came here and it felt terrible. But, now we come in here and walk it off and there is nothing better.”
“Our goal this past four year has been to win a state championship,” added Bryan. “Two years ago we got here and fell short, and this year we knew what was on the table with 10 seniors and we had to get it done.”
Coach Causey also ranks this pretty high up there on his list.
“Next to the birth of my children and marriage, this is the most special thing I’ve experienced,” said the coach. “It’s even better experiencing with those people over there. It’s awesome.”
Top Hitting Performances
Michael Mize, 2-5, 1 R
Ty Jones, 2-5, 1 R
Brandt Harris, 1-5, 2 RBI
Fisher Pitts, 2-4, 1 RBI
Hunter Ringo, 1-2, 2 RBI, 2 BB
MVP: Brandt Harris
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