Historic run continues: Vincent advances to Class 2A State Championship series

Published 10:08 pm Wednesday, May 10, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

VINCENT – The Vincent Yellow Jackets closed out their 2A semifinals series against the Lindsay Lane Lions with an 11-1 game three win on May 10.

With the win, the Yellow Jackets advanced to the state championship game for the first time since 2002 and now have the opportunity to win their first title since winning back-to-back championships from 1984-1985.

“It’s really hard to express in words,” Vincent coach Timothy Junkins said. “This team’s been through a lot this year. We faced a lot of adversity early on in the season, and a lot of them probably didn’t think we’d get this far. But we have fought all year. I mean, our guys, they’re confident. They feel like they can come out here versus anybody and compete and you see that in every game.”

In game three, the Lions jumped out to an early 1-0 lead off a first-inning sacrifice fly by Alexander Cook.

Vincent put up a run of their own in the bottom of the first thanks to an error by Lions shortstop Benjamin Frasier and never looked back.

The second inning saw Ethan McElrath hit a lead-off double and then score off a wild pitch and a passed ball three pitches later. Zac Carlisle then got hit by a pitch, stole second base and ran home off a Casen Fields single.

More Lions miscues ensued in the third led to three Yellow Jackets runs, one by Aiden Poe off an error, another from Ray Albright from a Carlisle fielder’s choice and the last from McElrath thanks to a throwing error, making the score 6-1 Vincent.

After being held scoreless in the fourth, Vincent exploded in the fifth inning. Albright drove in Poe with a double, and Albright came home from a Carlisle sac fly after an error and walk loaded the bases.

Fields’ second RBI single of the game scored McEllrath. That put Cobb at the plate up 9-1 with a chance to win off the run rule if he drove in two runs.

He doubled to do just that, and the Vincent students erupted in celebration after bringing the energy all series long. Players sprinted toward each other, eventually ending in a dog pile before fans poured on the field to celebrate the historic moment.

After the game, Junkins beamed about his ball club’s tenacity.

“Even when we’re down, we’re still competing on the field,” he said. “And I’m just super happy for them. I’m proud of them because they deserve this. We got far last year, got put out. Almost all those kids are back from that team last year. That’s their number one goal this year was to make the state championship.”

Carlisle led Vincent in the win with three RBIs, while Cobb added two on one hit. McElrath led the team with three hits and added an RBI, while Fields finished with two hits and an RBI. Easton Fields and Ray Albright each added one hit and one RBI in the historic win.

Grayson Gulde earned the win on the mound, finishing off a strong pitching series for Vincent. He pitched all five innings, striking out two and giving up one unearned run on two walks and a hit.

Junkins said he was proud of how the team responded from splitting the doubleheader the day before.

“We played great defense,” Junkins said. “We pitched well. We just couldn’t get those hits and those runs across the plate. We had opportunities. We just didn’t capitalize. So that was the emphasis today was, you know, we need those.”

And the Yellow Jackets got the timely hits en route to the semifinal-clinching win.

In the game-one win, Poe was the highlight, finishing with seven strikeouts and finishing off a 3-0 complete-game shutout that saw him give up just two hits and no walks.

Carlisle and Cobb each finished with a hit and an RBI in the win, while Poe and Albright totaled two hits.

Vincent dropped game two of the series 4-3, scoring three late runs to make it interesting late, before ultimately falling by one.

The Yellow Jackets will now play either G.W. Long or Ariton in the championship series May 15-16.