By LEO KELLEY
ALLEN — Allen’s Bubba Stephens tied the game with a 3-run homer in the fifth inning, then connected for another round-tripper in the 7th in the championship game Thursday night as the Mustangs captured the Class A District title with a 14-11 slugfest over New Lima.
“Our seniors really stepped up when it counted,” said Allen head coach John Cundiff. “I asked Bubba if he was ready to let somebody else finish up, but he said he wanted this game. I am very pleased with the way we came back. New Lima can hit the baseball. They are a much better team than people give them credit for.”
New Lima finishes up with a 15-12 record. Allen improved to 20-6.
Chad Colbert also had a huge championship game, smashing a pair of triple that drove in five runs for Cundiff’s No. 6 Mustangs.
In Allen’s opening two games, left-fielder Tyler Harrington had outings that most can only dream about. He went 5-for-5, with four home runs, a triple, two walks, six runs scored and eight RBIs. In the championship matchup, the Allen slugger was 1-for-2 with three walks, two stolen bases and two runs.
In the opening game, New Lima dominated Wetumka 28-0.
Allen 12, Wetumka 0
The Mustangs scored early and often in their run-rule win over the outgunned Wetumka Chieftains.
Corby King scattered four hits as Allen put seven on the board in the second inning and five more in the third. The big blows were Harrington’s triple and Stephens’ two-run three-bagger. First baseman Chance Shires was 1-for-1 with a walk and two stolen bases, while Colbert was 2-for 3 with a pair of triples, an RBI and two runs scored.
The Allen win eliminated Wetumka.
With rain in the forecast, Cundiff and New Lima head coach Mike Edwards agreed to complete the tournament Thursday night. The championship game was originally scheduled for Friday afternoon.
“We didn’t pitch the way we usually do, but we hung in there,” Cundiff said. “We just didn’t come out ready like we need to be. But we showed that we have what it takes to come from behind. That will benefit us down the road.
The Mustangs will play in the Sulphur Festival Monday.
“It will be some five-inning games to keep us sharp for the Regional Tournament next week,” Cundiff said.
Allen 13, New Lima 3
Harrington’s long home run to right in the first inning put Allen up 1-0. And his two-run tape measure drive — which landed in the football bleachers in right-center field — extended the Mustang lead to 4-2 in the third inning.
New Lima then discovered how to keep the youngster from going deep. He was intentionally walked in the fourth and was hit by a pitch in the fifth. But the Falcons chose to pitch to him in the seventh — and they paid for it. Harrington lined his third home run of the game and fourth of the day over the left field fence.
Right fielder Brenton Lewis reached base four times and scored twice.
Brandon Postoak tossed the complete game, scattering 10 hits, while striking out 13 for the Mustangs. Postoak also scored twice and drove in a couple more.
What about Harrington’s power display.
“It doesn’t surprise any of us,” Cundiff said. “That kid can benchpress 300 pounds. He’s very strong and has a sweet swing. He had a huge game.”
Allen 14, New Lima 11
If you like them wild and woolly, then the district title game was for you.
It seemed early on like it was going to be pitcher’s duel. Both Stephens and New Lima’s Brett Brooksher had no-hitters through the first three innings.
But it got crazy in the fourth. After Stephens and Shires knocked in runs to put the Mustangs up 2-0, the Falcons — aided by four Allen errors in the inning — sent 12 men to the plate during a long seven-run inning.
However, Cundiff’s squad proved they are resilient. After Colbert’s two-run double cut the New Lima lead to 7-4 in the fifth, Stephens followed with a dramatic three-run shot to pull Allen even at 7-7. Then in the sixth, Postoak walked with two outs, stole second and scored on a throwing error and the Mustangs led 8-7.
But the Falcons didn’t pack it in. Ryan Davis singled, stole second and scored on pitcher Brett Brooksher’s single and the game was knotted again, 8-8.
The Mustangs then sent 10 men to plate in the top of the seventh, with Stephens’ second long ball of the game and Colbert’s bases-loaded triple the big blows.
While New Lima rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh, Postoak got Jonathon Valdez to fly out to center with two men on and the Mustangs claimed the district title.
“We’re excited about winning the district tournament,” Cundiff said. “We believe we can go a long way if we play the way we know we can. This is the first step toward what we hope is a state championship. Our seniors showed the type of leadership I’ve been looking for against New Lima.”
By LEO KELLEY