PIERCETON – When Frankton needed a play, it made several. And for its efforts, a state title.
Frankton trailed Plymouth for most of the 12-U Town & Country baseball championship, but came up huge on three occasions to rally for a 5-4 win in stunning fashion Monday night.
Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth, a leadoff walk to Sebastian Davis put Frankton in business. Davis would come around to score on a Brock Threet RBI single, and Frankton would tie up the score three batters later when Kayden Key reached base on an infield single, bringing home Threet.
Plymouth would put runners on the corners in the top of the sixth, but Threet got out of the jam by getting slugger Cole Filson to roll out to third.
The boys from Marshall County loaded the bases in the seventh, after Cam Donnie and Ezra Winkle singled and Tim Tremaine walked. But Threet would give up just one run on a fielder’s choice, scoring Winkle.
The lack of punch from Plymouth in the top half would be the difference as Frankton made up for it. A walk to Threet and a rocket from Andrew Hartley off Filson put runners on base. Again at the plate in a big spot, Key unlocked the drama with a missile into the left center gap to score both runners and send the home side into a frenzy.
“This team throughout the tourney has really come back through adversity,” said Frankton head coach Chris Hatzey. “They were never out of it. They had a lot of heart. That really defines this team. This was an emotional game. The crowd was really intense and, of course, so were the kids. They are 12 years old, of course they are emotional.
“I was really proud of the way they hung in there and didn’t quit. It was very tense, but Kayden Key came up with a huge hit. He really came through in the clutch and had a big tournament.”
Plymouth jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning with an RBI single from Filson, who then came around to score on a wild pitch. Plymouth scored its third run on an error in the fifth.
Frankton finished its state finals run 4-0 at Pierceton, beating Rochester, Rossville and Nappanee to reach Monday’s championship match. Plymouth lost to Alexandria in its first game, but rallied with wins over Lewis Cass, Rossville, Rochester and Nappanee prior to the final.
“This is huge for Frankton,” Hatzey said of the township in between Muncie and Anderson. “We are a small town and have a good athletic program at our high school, but state championships don’t come along that often. I think it means a lot for the community, but it means a lot more for the parents and most of all, the kids.”
Elsewhere in the state, New Paris were playing for a title in the 10-U grid at Flora, but ended with heartbreak. Needing two wins, Ole Miss rallied from the loser’s bracket to reach the championship and used a three-run triple in the top of the sixth from Landon Swanner to upset New Paris 5-4. In the winner-take-all second game, Ole Miss rode the momentum of game one and pounded New Paris, 11-1, in four innings to win the title.
In the 8-U final at Monticello, another two-game thrill ride saw top-seed Frankfort beat Russiaville, 6-2, in game one and hold on in game two, 5-3, to claim the glory.