Owls, Outlaws both State baseball bound
Last year's regional disappointment for Elgin baseball fully dissipated on Friday evening when the Owls snagged a regional championship and squeaked out an extra-inning victory over Clinton, defeating the Red Tornadoes 4-3 in eight innings to punch their ticket to the Class 4A State tournament next weekend.
Needing far less drama in its regional championship, another area school, Marlow, booked its spot in the Class 3A State tournament by racing past Kingston, 14-4.
Elgin, led by a solid outing on the mound from Braeden Moreland who pitched seven innings, scattering five hits, tallying five strikeouts and yielding three runs, none of which were earned and charged to him did just enough to rally for the Owls' first State tournament trip in baseball since 2014. They did it on the road, on Clinton's own diamond, no less.
"It's relieving to get it done," Elgin coach Levi Garrett said. "We're just glad it worked out. I couldn't have asked for more from this group. They believed and knew this game was going to take everything we've got. These guys never flinched. This game was meant to play out the way it did."
Downtrodden from an unlucky play earlier in the game, catcher Trevor Bianchini delivered the game-winner as his line-drive RBI single into right field with two outs was the walkoff that scored his brother, Lance Bianchini for the 4-3 win. Lance, who chini for the 4-3 win. Lance, who had two hits and an RBI, started the 8th inning rally with a base hit before Braeden Shackelford and Holden Bartosovsky walked.
Trevor went 2 for 5 with 2 RBIs and made up for his pickoff attempt down the third base line in the fifth inning, which led to a pair of runs for Clinton. Garrett said Elgin had the Clinton runner at third "dead to rights" and the hitter at the plate was facing two strikes.
Trevor's throw down the third base line ricocheted off the baserunner's leg and into left field. Two Tornado runs scored, but Trevor responded with the kill shot in the eighth to redeem himself.
"It's only fitting Trevor wins it for us," Garrett said. "He came up clutch for us."