Freed-Hardeman Lions win 14-inning game to advance to MSC Tournament Finals; fall in MSC championship

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Von Watson hit a walk-off single in the 14th inning to beat Georgetown on Saturday night. Photo by Anthony Latessa/Mid-South

The Lions baseball team (26-22) knocked off Georgetown (35-28) 7-6 on Saturday night in dramatic fashion thanks to a Von Watson walk-off single in the bottom of the 14th, advancing the Lions to the Mid-South Conference Tournament Championship game and earning them a bid into the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round.
After the Lions fell to top-seeded University of the Cumberlands (45-6) 8-2 in an earlier game on Saturday, they had to face off against the Tigers for the second time in the tournament, this time with their season lives on the line.
It started out like any other normal game, and the Lions were able to go up 3-0 after scoring a run in each of the first three innings.
The Tigers came storming back, though, starting in the fourth inning with a single run, followed by a two-run fifth inning to tie the game, and another run in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead.
The Lions were able to tie the game back up in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a two-out solo shot by Riley Perks, which eventually forced extra innings.
The two teams would trade blows in the 10th and 11th innings to keep the game tied.
Georgetown hit a solo home run in the top of the 10th inning, but the Lions responded when Beau Simpson hit a double off the left-centerfield wall to lead off the inning. DeJhard Kimbrough entered as his courtesy runner, and Watson brought him in to score with a double of his own.
The Tigers came back in the 11th inning with yet another solo home run to take a 6-5 lead, but FHU refused to go away, scoring the tying run after Dylan Lott got hit by the first pitch he saw to lead off the inning.
The senior short stop advanced to second on a balk by the Georgetown pitcher and then moved to third base on a 4-3 groundout. With two outs in the inning, Josh Sears legged out an infield single to score Lott, tying the game 6-6 and forcing a 12th inning.
Connor Creasy entered to pitch for the Lions in the 12th and completely blanked the Tigers in three innings on the mound. After both teams went through two scoreless innings, Creasy was able to get through the 14th inning unscathed, giving the Lions yet another chance in the bottom half to get the win.
The 14th inning started when Will McCall drew a four-pitch walk, followed by a double from Sears down the third-base line to put runners on first and second with no outs.
The Tigers opted to intentionally walk Simpson, bringing Watson to the plate with the bases loaded and still no outs.
On a 2-2 count, Watson got a pitch he liked, which he drove into the gap into right-center, scoring McCall and giving the Lions the walk-off win and a berth into the MSC Title game and the National Tournament.
Jacob Sawyers made his first appearance on the mound for the Lions since March 25 and struck out the first two batters he saw in his one inning of work.
Austin Steel saw five strong innings of relief, striking out five batters and keeping the Lions in the game as it inched into extra innings. Creasy earned the win after throwing three flawless innings, striking out four batters.
Sears ended the contest on a 4-for-7 outing with an RBI, and Watson went 2-for-5 with three RBI’s. McCall went 3-for-5 with three runs scored
The Lions played a rematch with No. 3 Cumberlands in the conference championship game on Sunday, May 9, but fell 11-10.
It was all Lions from the start, taking an 8-1 lead through two and a half innings of action.
In the first inning, Will McCall hit a one-out double to start his 3-for-5 day, and he was brought in by Beau Simpson.
Brady Harris entered as a courtesy runner, followed by a single from Von Watson, and they both scored on an error by the Cumberlands right fielder on a fly ball hit by Dom Pisano to take an early 3-0 lead.
After the Patriots got a run back in the bottom half of the first, the Lions went on to add two more runs after McCall got his second hit of the day, plating Zach Sanders, and Simpson drove McCall in with a single down the left field line to make it 5-1.
In the top of the third, the Lions scored three runs when Sanders hit a single to center field to bring in Dylan Lott. McCall then hit his second double of the game to bring in DeJhard Kimbrough and Sanders to make it 8-1.
The top-seeded Patriots began their run in the fourth inning, scoring nine unanswered runs to take a 10-8 lead after five innings of play. But the Lions were able to get some momentum in the top of the sixth when they scored two runs to tie the game at 10.
Rob Patterson entered the contest out of the bullpen in the fourth inning and pitched four and two-thirds innings while blanking the Patriots in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to keep the game tied.
As the game entered the ninth inning, the Lions were held scoreless bringing the contest to the bottom of the ninth, still tied 0-0.
The Lions retired the first batter of the evening, but MSC Player of the Year Brian Leef ended the game with one swing, a walk-off home run, to end the game and win the conference title.
The Lions will await to see where they will go for the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round. The selection show will be 4 p.m. today, Thursday, on the NAIA’s Facebook page.

Beau Simpson went 4-for-5 in the MSC Championship game on Sunday. Photo by Anthony Latessa/Mid-South