Rio Sports Live

London drops heartbreaker to Malakoff in 3A state title game

By Mark Molina | Rio Sports Live

ROUND ROCK — Once again in these playoffs, the London Pirates’ lineup put their team in a prime position, offering up a three-run lead over the Malakoff Tigers, three outs away from a state title.

Only this time, the Pirates magic would run out and their dreams of being the last team standing would stay a dream.

The London defense committed two errors and gave up three unearned runs as Malakoff put four runners across in the bottom of the seventh to finish off a comeback and secure an 8-7 win in the Class 3A state championship game Saturday morning at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.

“That’s baseball,” London co-head coach Albert Amaya said. “We tell our guys that they need to make routine plays and they have got to throw strikes and the team that does that is going to come out on top. That’s what happened today. We kind of ran out of magic there at the end. 

After picking up the first out, London, which used three different pitchers in the inning and five in the game, saw Malakoff bring in runners on an RBI single, a walk, and two — including the winning run — via hit by pitch.

“We’ve been doing it all year,” Amaya added. “These kids have a great record and this usually doesn’t happen to us. It happened to us today. All year long, our bullpen, our defense and everything about us came through and were solid. Today at the end, we came up a little short. It does sting a little bit, but we’ll learn from it.”

London ended its season 33-6-1 and reached the school’s first ever state tournament in any sport as a team.

The two teams were knotted at 2-2 after two complete innings and it would stay that way until the Tigers ’Bryson Adair smacked a single up the middle for a two-run RBI to score Judd Driskell Nathon Jones to take a 4-2 lead.

It wouldn’t take long for the Pirates to come up with an answer in the fifth, starting with a Mason Jacob two-RBI double to left center to score Kade Budd and Jacob Gonzalez to tie the game.

Landon Salinas followed later in the inning with an RBI single and John Martinez put down a sac bunt RBI to give the Pirates the lead.

“We have 1 through 9 and we know everybody can hit,” Jacob said. “We weren’t down on ourselves and we knew we were going to come through.”

Gonzalez crossed the plate again on a Malakoff error in the top of the sixth to make it a 7-4 Pirate lead until the seventh-inning dramatics.

London picked up the first out on a strikeout but an error in center field and third loaded the bases.

“We were nervous but I kept my head up after the error,” said Martinez, London’s third baseman. “We had to keep on going and try to pick up one out at a time.”

London’s Blake Watters picked up a strikeout for a second out but an Adair RBI single brought in a run to make it 6-4 and a Cole Gaddis walk scored another Tiger run.

The Tigers Brandon Nations crossed the plate after now-London pitcher Henry Sepulveda hit a batter to score him to tie the game at 7 and keep the bases loaded.

After Konner Kuypers took the mound for London, he’d soon hit Jack Davis and Gaddis would trot home for the winning run.

Jacob led London with a 1-for-4 performance at the plate, two RBI and a run scored. Salinas was 1 for 4 with an RBi and Budd scored two runs.

Malakoff’s Adair was 4 for 5 at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored and was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

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