By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
BALDWYN – No member of the Baldwyn or East Union baseball teams expected anything less than the close outcome of Game 3 of the MHSAA Class 2A semifinals.
In a fourth-straight tight contest between division foes, the Urchins scored early and held on for a 2-1 victory on Monday night.
East Union (21-14) won the best-of-three series and will play Taylorsville for the 2A championship beginning Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in Pearl. It’s the Urchins’ first state title appearance since 2007.
“I just expected Baldwyn to come in here and play hard and they did, and we just had to fight back,” said East Union pitcher Cody Bo Dillard. “We’ve got a lot of heart and we’re good under pressure.”
The Urchins proved their mettle in high-pressure situations in the bottom of the seventh inning. Starting pitcher Austin Sanders hit two batters in a row to put a runner into scoring position with nobody out.
Dillard relieved Sanders and left the winning run stranded at second. He recorded three straight outs for his fourth save.
The senior pitched in all three games, losing Sunday’s Game 2 after giving up only one earned run.
Dillard “would throw a fourth if we had it,” East Union coach Chris Basil said. “That’s just the type of kid he is.”
Two-out RBI hits by Austin Basil and Alex Boland in the second put the Urchins ahead 2-0.
Tucker Jenkins scored the lone run for Baldwyn (22-7) on a sixth-inning single by Dustin Kirk.
“For a team that didn’t make the playoffs last year, I’m very proud of the way those young guys fought,” said Baldwyn’s Shannon Smith, who had two seniors.
Bishop Davis (8-3) took the loss for the Bearcats, while Sanders (7-2) struck out five in earning the win.