East Central defeats Monroe 11-8 to win Pre-Majors state title
Vidalia — With an 11-8 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Pre-Majors East Central baseball team could do nothing but watch as Monroe’s Quintin Guice hit a ball that carried to the left field wall with the bases loaded and two outs in the Pre-Majors state championship game.
Guice, who hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning against East Central on Sunday, rounded first as East Central’s Trey Book leaped up and snagged the last out to secure the victory for East Central. Head coach Sessions Vestal fought off flashbacks as he hoped his player would make the game-winning catch at the Concordia Recreation District 3 Complex Tuesday night.
“I was thinking either Book is going to go over the wall or this thing is going out of here,” Vestal said.
In what turned out to be a three-hour drama-filled contest, East Central and Monroe traded leads for the better part of the game.
After scoring three runs in the fourth and adding another in the fifth, Monroe took an 8-7 lead into the seventh inning.
Thomas Garrity led off the inning for East Central with a walk. Jake Barlow, who had two home runs in his first two plate appearances of the game, struck out behind. After Jake Cooper struck out, East Central was down to one out left with Garrity at second base looking to make a play. With Marquis Buckner at the plate, Garrity took advantage by stealing third while the Monroe’s pitcher wasn’t paying attention.
“I was not even thinking about,” Garrity said. “I just went. I knew I had to do something to get to third. If I don’t get to third, I don’t score on a base hit.”
Buckner lined a shot to third base, and the throw from third got away from Monroe’s first baseman, allowing East Central to tie the game. Monroe had six errors in the contest.
Calvin McCarroll hit a single in the next at bat, and both Buckner and McCarroll scored on an error. After Chandler Grayson scored on a passed ball, East Central took an 11-8 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
McCarroll, who came in to pitch in the seventh, was awarded the victory. Jake Cooper started the game and pitched three innings, gave up four runs and struck out five. Barlow relieved him and pitched two and two-thirds innings and struck out five.
The state championship gives East Central a seed in the World Series.