(David Jenkins photo)
NEW MADRID -- After dropping five of their last six regular season games, few expected the New Madrid County Central Eagles to be relevant in their district, much less the Class 2 tournament.
Finding a new hero each day, however, the Eagles stood Thursday just one win away from advancing to their first final four appearance in school history.
It was the same group of seniors that endured a three-win campaign in their first year of the program that rallied the Eagles to a 3-0 decision over St. Pius and into the final four for the first time.
The heroics came from all over the place late in Thursday's game, starting with senior Jashawn McDaniel coming in to start the sixth inning after throwing seven full innings just three days prior.
McDaniel got out of a bases loaded situation with one out with two called third strikes to send his team back up to bat in the top of the seventh in a scoreless game.
Momentum continued to swing in the Eagles' favor as senior Tim Clayton led off the inning by reaching on an error before being replaced at first base by speedy sophomore Jake Reed.
Reed proceeded to steal second before a bad throw on a pickoff move allowed him to advance to third representing the go-ahead run. After an intentional walk to the next batter put runners on the corners, Reed made the bold move to come home on a passed ball by the catcher. Reed's decision paid off as he beat the Lancers' catcher on a play at the plate to put the Eagles on top 1-0.
Not content with the lead, the Eagles loaded the bases with no outs, but looked to have squandered an opportunity when two strikeouts followed.
Before NMCC could squander the opportunity, senior Lane Chamberlain who is NMCC's No. 9 hitter, sent a line drive down the left field line that plated two crucial insurance runs that made up the 3-0 final.
For the rest of this article, see Friday's Standard Democrat or log on to the electronic edition. View a photo gallery of the game here: http://www.standard-democrat.com/gallery...
NMCC 000 000 3 - 3
St. Pius 000 000 0 - 0
WP -- Jashawn McDaniel. LP -- Drew Drinen. Multiple hitters: (N) Lane Chamberlain 2-3; (S) Taylor Wood 2-3. 2B -- (S) Thomas Welch.