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Owls Take State Title

Lance Bianchini’s clutch relief effort saves 7-6 win

OKLAHOMA CITY - With the tying runner 90 feet away and the state championship hanging in the balance, Elgin baseball coach Levi Garrett called time and walked to the mound, instilling confidence in relief pitcher Lance Bianchini.

"I know you're out of gas," Garrett told Bianchini, who had just yielded a bases-loaded walk to cut the lead to one after breezing through his previous four innings of relief duty.

But somehow, Bianchini buckled down to earn the win on the mound by forcing a fly out to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark's right field, where it was caught for the final out as the Owls sprinted to the infield for a team dog pile. 

Elgin (28-13)   the team who few outside the Comanche town believed had much of a chance entering the state tournament   was the last team left standing, crowned the 2018 Class 4A state champions with a 7-6 victory over Blanchard (34-4) on Saturday night. 

"This means the world to us," Garrett said as the Elgin faithful celebrated with the team. "In 2014, the last state tournament bunch opened everybody's eyes to what we could be and what we could accomplish at Elgin.

"We found our way with this group. When you get a little momentum, it's a funny thing."

Elgin, which was retired in order twice before leaving the bases loaded in the third, couldn't muster much at the plate through the first three innings. But the Owls exploded four a 4-run fourth inning and added two more runs in the sixth to move in front, 6-4.

Jake Meents provided the biggest hit of the game when he ripped a 2-run standup triple to the right field corner. 

"I just pulled that fast ball and I wasn't even paying attention to where the ball went. I just took off," Meents said. "As soon as coach came up and gave me that hug, I was the happiest ever knowing we were in front."

Meents, who quickly turned with a bright smile to the Elgin fans, arrived at third with a warm embrace from an excited Garrett.

"I knew we needed some kind of boost to push us through and Jake was the man," Garrett said. "He was a different guy this whole journey."

Senior Jacob Dawson doubled twice for two of Elgin's nine team hits. His 2-run 2-bagger in the fourth gave Elgin confidence as his hit to right-center scored Kendrick Black and TJ Niedert, who scored from first. Blanchard catcher Rowdy Steelman bobbled the ball at home plate as Niedert slid in, giving Elgin its first lead of the game, 3-2.

"Always have an approach when you go up to the plate," Dawson said. "I knew we needed to spark the fans and the dugout so I thought, 'Why not me? Why not us?'" 

Holden Bartosovsky, who had three hits, scored on a wild pitch for the Owls' fourth run of the inning.

The Lawton Constitution

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