Sonoraville had to come back from a Game 1 loss in their Class AAA State Tournament First Round series vs. White County on Thursday. Then they had to come back from an early deficit in Game 2 to earn a win and force a decisive Game 3 on Friday. Then they had to come back from a deficit once again in Game 3. Well the comeback kids are marching on and making program history in the process.
The Phoenix, who split a doubleheader on Thursday, fell behind 2-0 in Game 3 on Friday afternoon at the Sonoraville Recreation Complex but used a strong third inning to rally for a 3-2 lead over White County, and after the Warriors tied it up at 3-3, Sonoraville again used timely hitting for two runs in the fifth and held steady from there for a 5-3 win to clinch their first-ever postseason series win.
Sonoraville head coach Deron Walraven said the kind of tenacity and never-say-die attitude his team showed both Thursday and Friday was incredible, and he is very proud and excited to be taking the group into the second round for the first time.
“I told them after the game today that they showed exactly what they are made of today and yesterday,” said Walraven. “After losing Game 1 yesterday, our guys were not going to go down without a fight. They came back today and got down again, but they scrapped and clawed to get back in it and did whatever was necessary to get this win. This is huge for our team, our program, our school and our community. I’m so happy that we get to put these uniforms back on again and go play in the second round next week. It means so much to me, and I know it means so much to our boys.”
White County grabbed the lead in the first inning with an RBI-single by Nate Bray and added another run in the third on an RBI-groundout by J. Ben Haynes.
Sonoraville (19-11) answered in the bottom of the third with their first run coming home to score in the form of Jaxon Pate who went from second to home on a double-play attempt on a groundout by Hayden Holsomback. Later in the inning, Cole Gross came up with a huge two-out, two-run single to bring home Holsomback and Tanner Folds to push the Phoenix to a 3-2 lead.
White County (20-12) evened the game the following inning on an RBI-groundout by Bailee Patterson, but the decisive runs came in the fifth as Sonoraville when Folds came home to score on an error and Gross followed with an RBI-groundout to make it 5-3.
After Sonoraville starter Devin Hackney went 4 1-3 innings and allowed three runs on six hits while striking out one and walking four, Trevor Childers came on in the fifth and closed things out with 2 2-3 innings of scoreless relief. Childers earned the win as he didn’t allow a hit, struck out two and walked two.
“Devin kept us in the game…he got us to the fifth with the game tied,” said Walraven. “We fell behind early on, which is going to happen sometimes, but the defense was solid all day and we put together some hits. We came up with some big hits in the third and the fifth and took advantage of some of (White County’s) mistakes defensively. We had some great at-bats and took their pitchers into deep counts. The determination we showed today was awesome to be a part of.
“Devin started and did whatever was asked of him, and I couldn’t be more proud. He got us to where we needed him to, and then Trevor came in out of the pen like he has done a lot this year for us. He threw strikes and kept them off the scoreboard. That’s all you can hope for as a coach. Great effort by both of those guys and really our whole team today.”
Gross finished with a hit and three RBIs for Sonoraville. Folds had a hit and two runs scored, and Pate, Cole Godfrey, Zach Lyles and Holsomback also had a hit apiece.
Haynes took the loss for White County despite some good work on the mound. He went five innings and allowed five runs (one earned) on five hits while striking out three. Mark Daniels pitched one inning of scoreless relief.
Along with Bray and Haynes’ one-hit, one-RBI day, Evan Chambers, Dylan Sargent, Kyler Mayo and Mark Daniels also had a hit apiece for White County.
The Phoenix now move on to the second round of the Class AAA State Tournament where they will visit Franklin County, the Region 8-AAA champion and No. 1 seed. The series will begin on Tuesday with a doubleheader starting at 5 p.m. If a Game 3 is necessary, it will be played on Wednesday at 5 p.m. The two teams met earlier in the season in a non-region doubleheader on March 6 with the Lions earning 9-2 and 8-4 wins.
“We had a hard time scheduling games going into the season with most everyone’s schedules already set after I came in and took the job a little late so we were searching for anyone really,” said Walraven. “(Franklin County) had lost some games on their schedule so we agreed to play each other. It was early in the season, and we played them two tough games. We’ve cleaned some stuff up defensively since then.
“I feel good about our chances. Franklin County is a good team with some really good arms, but with how hard our guys fight, I like our chances and feel good about making the trip. It’s going to be a fun trip and a fun series. We’re excited to play in the Sweet 16 for the first time.”