(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
LEOPOLD -- Though Oran outfielder Jacob Priggel was too young to help the Eagles in their pursuit of last year's Class 1, District 2 Championship no one will soon forget the freshman's contribution in Thursday's title game.
With his team deadlocked with Bernie at 5-5 and the winning run on second, Priggel connected for a two-out, walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh that sealed a 6-5 Oran.
"It felt great," Priggel said of the hit. "As a freshman I tried to block all of the pressure out and just make contact. I did what I could. I just watched the ball and didn't even pay attention to where I was at."
Priggel's hit capped a wild seventh inning that saw momentum swing each as the Eagles sought to repeat as champions.
Trailing 5-4 heading into the top of the seventh, Bernie was denied a potential game tying hit when Eagles' center fielder Blake Carlyle caught a blast from Josh Stevens just feet from the fence before crashing into it.
Taking advantage of an outfield error in the next at bat the Mules went ahead and put the tying on second before a two-out line drive from freshman Devin Trammel tied the game.
"Devin is one of those kids that's not scared of anything," Bernie head coach Darrin Shipman said. "Maybe he don't know any better, but he's not scared. I knew one thing he was going to get up there and he was going to get his hacks. What a hit right there. Just so proud of that at bat."
Once Oran got back up in the bottom of the frame a pair of quick outs had it looking like the Eagles might have to take their chances in extra innings.
Already with a pair of RBI and a game-changing catch in center under his belt Carlyle then stepped to the plate as Orans last chance to end things in regulation.
After a swing a miss, Carlyle caught the Mules off guard in laying a bunt down the third base line. Sprinting down the line he easily beat the throw to put the winning run on first.
"I took one and I had a bad swing," Carlyle said. "So then I thought to myself I haven't bunted yet this game and that's one of my stronger areas. So I just laid one down and did what I could do to get us going in the inning."
Added Oran head coach Mitch Wood, "We talked about it all year long. Get a strike, because they come in on him all year long, and sure enough he took a swing and the third baseman backs up. Then, boom, he throws it down and a great bunt."
Before Caryle had a chance to steal Dalton Elfrink was hit by a pitch setting up first and second with two outs. Taking off as soon as Priggel made contact Carlyle rounded third and scored without a close play at the plate to give the Eagles back-to-back district titles.
"As soon as Priggel hit it I knew it was going to be down so my main thing was to get home and let's win this," Carlyle said.
While Oran took the lead when it mattered most it was Bernie who jumped on the board first. Following two scoreless innings, the Mules took an early lead when Jesse Shelton doubled in the first run of the game. A two-out single from Josh Stevens brough home a pair of runs to make it 3-0 Bernie.
Leading off their half of the third with three straight hits Oran was able to close back to within a run, at 3-2, before taking the lead with a three-run rally in the fifth. Carlyle put them on top with a two RBI single before a single by Elfrink made it 5-3.
A single by Brad Freed closed the Mules to within one in the sixth before Trammel tied the game in the seventh.
"Sometimes earlier in the season I questioned their heart," Shipman said. "But I didn't question it today. I don't think anybody that watched this game questioned our heart today."
Outhitting Oran 10-8 the Mules were led by Shelton, Freed, Will Barnett and Trammel as each contributed a pair of hits. Shelton, Freed and Barnett had a double while Trammel had two.
Leading Oran was Carlyle and Priggel as each had two hits on the day. Carlyle scored twice, including the game-winner, and drove in two while Priggel had a pair of singles, including the game-winner.
Kody Moore, Seth Ressel, Adam Schaefer and Elfrink each hit a double.
With the win Oran advances to play Cooter on Monday.
Bernie 003 001 1 - 5 10
Oran 002 030 1 - 6 8
WP -- Seth Ressel. LP -- Jesse Shelton. Multiple hitters: (B) Jesse Shelton 2-4, Will Barnett 2-4, Devin Trammel 2-4, Brad Freed 2-3; (O) Blake Carlyle 2-4, Jacob Priggel 2-3. 2B -- (B) Shelton, Barnett, Trammel 2, Freed; (O) Kody Moore, Seth Ressel, Dalton Elfrink, Adam Schaefer.