By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
GOWER - East Buchanan (16-8) made history last Wednesday by winning the baseball program's first ever district title against Mid-Buchanan, overcoming a five-run deficit along the way.
But, they didn't want to settle for that.
East Buchanan, once again, came from behind, erasing an early three-run deficit and scoring the go-ahead runs in the seventh inning for a 6-5 win over Bishop LeBlond in a Class 2 sectional battle in Gower Monday.
Trailing 5-4 with the bases loaded and down to the last out in the top of the seventh, junior Luke Webb swung on a full-count pitch and put it into shallow left.
Shallow, but also deep enough to score senior Cameron Henry and junior Conner Musser and give the Bulldogs their first lead.
"Coach (Dave) Elms has always just preached that if you put the ball in play, good things are going to happen," Webb said. "I was just going out there to try and make contact and just get a hit. I happened to get one, it fell through and we scored."
After falling behind 3-0 at the end of the first, East Buchanan scored a run in the third, two more in the fifth and another in the sixth. Webb's RBI single in the top of the sixth inning scored sophomore Bronco Whitt, which tied the game at 4-4 .
LeBlond (7-14) promptly took the lead back in the bottom of the sixth. Sophomore Jake Korell led off with a bloop single to left, while junior Alex Libel was hit by a pitch and junior Chris Guldan was walked to load the bases.
With two outs, junior Bradeyn Dawson was walked into bases loaded and gave the lead back to the Eagles at 5-4. A flyout in the next at-bat ended the inning, and limited the damage for East Buchanan. LeBlond ended both the fourth and sixth innings with bases loaded.
LeBlond had their chance in the bottom of the seventh to walk off or at least send it to extras.
Senior Fred Lageschlute led off with a single to right and stole second, but two flyouts and a strikeout after that ended the Eagles' threat.
"I told the guys, they have nothing to hang their heads about," LeBlond coach Myles McLaughlin said. "You know, it was a fun game. They fought and battled until the very end. As a coach, that's all I ask for."
Whitt got the win on the mound for the Bulldogs, pitching the final 2.2 innings, allowing only two hits and striking out three batters.
"It feels great," Whitt said. "I mean, we've had a lot of teams get close (to making sectionals). I mean, we've had some really good teams. It just feels great, knowing that we're the first team ever."
After being the first team in program history to win a district title last Wednesday, East Buchanan had a light, almost walkthrough-like practice on Thursday.
Then, they dialed in on Friday, knowing that they didn't want their run to end with a district championship.
"That was one thing we really wanted to concentrate on," East Buchanan head coach Dave Elms said. "Not being satisfied. Yeah, they made school history with the district title, but you know, don't be satisfied. Continue with that legacy. And, again. They came back and they did a great job."
A tough ending for a LeBlond team that had just experienced a walk-off district title victory against Maysville last week. And a team that had walked off 7-6 in nine innings against East Buchanan just three weeks prior.
But of the 15 players on McLaughlin's roster, 12 are set to be coming back next season.
For a group that had started this season with a 1-8 record and then finished it with a close loss in sectionals, McLaughlin is excited to watch this group continue its growth next spring.
"I think the future is very bright," he said. "We have a lot of kids coming back. I'm already looking ahead and am excited for that. I think the guys are, too. They want to get back here and win this one and make it to the next one."
East Buchanan goes on to play Lone Jack (18-6) in state quarterfinals on Wednesday. Lone Jack defeated Windsor, 4-0, Monday. The time and place of Wednesday's game is to be determined.
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