Late push for Lions
By TONY STINNETT, Courier Sports Editor
BAXTER - Cannon County's late-season surge finally came to an end but not without a fight.
The upset-minded Lions pushed second-seeded Upperman to the brink of elimination before bowing out of the District 8-AA Tournament with a devastating 6-5 setback against the host Bees.
Cannon County (9-22-1) won seven of its final 11 games to end the season, but it came within a whisker of extending its season at least one more game before Upperman stunned the Lions in dramatic fashion.
"Losing that game the way we did was our season in a nutshell," Lions coach Justin Fann said. "One of the things we did the last 11 or 12 games is let district teams know next year is a year Cannon County will be reckoned with. We got the attention of teams in our district the last few weeks."
Cannon County dropped its tournament opener against Upperman, 6-1, but came back to oust York, 10-5, in an elimination game Monday (May 5). After Upperman was upset by DeKalb County, the Lions faced the Bees once again in an elimination game for both.
Cannon County carried a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh before the Bees came alive with a three-run uprising that eliminated the Lions.
"We were one out away," Fann said. "The kids battled and we had a great chance. We just didn't finish the game."
The game was tied, 1-1, when the Lions struck for three in the fourth. Bragg started the inning with a double down the left-field line. Tucker Francis was hit by a pitch and Jake Todd walked to load the bases. With one out, Campbell delivered a single to plate two runs and the Lions picked up the third run on Vassar's two-out single.
Upperman pulled to within 4-3 in the fifth, but the Lions added what appeared to be a big insurance run at the time when Bragg drove in Vassar in the top of the seventh to push the lead to 5-3.
Freshman Sam Schau pitched five strong innings and left the game with a 4-3 lead. Schau scattered four hits over his five innings of work. Sophomore Austin Martin came on in relief and worked his way out of a sixth-inning jam.
The middle of Upperman's order proved to tough to handle in the seventh.
The game was tied, 5-5, with two outs and the winning run on second but the Bees got the clutch hit to avoid extra innings for the second straight game.
“We put ourselves in position to beat a good team on their home field but we fell short,” Fann said. “The team has fought hard this season.”
Lions 10, Dragons 5
Bees 6, Lions 1