Shaking off a 4-3 loss in the series opener, the Lovelady Lions came back with identical 9-2 victories on Saturday to knock off Joaquin for the regional quarterfinal title.
After the setback in Jasper on Friday, the Lions had their backs to the wall when the series resumed Saturday in Lufkin.
"I couldn't have asked any more out of these guys today. They really came through," said Lion Head Coach Tommy Parker after his squad clinched the best of three series. "I didn't know what to expect because they were really down after losing yesterday. That was a long bus ride home from Jasper, but I told them we just have to regroup. There are a lot of good teams that lose the first game and then come back and win the next two."
"On Friday we out-hit Joaquin 9 to 2, and got three hits in the seventh inning but didn't score. It was a nightmare. We just shot ourselves in the foot, and basically in a nutshell, we gave the game away," said Parker.
"I didn't know how we'd respond. I didn't know what their pulse was after that loss," added Parker.
One thing Parker was certain about is his team's tenacity.
"Most of this bunch played football last fall and we had some really tough games against Beckville and Shelbyville in the playoffs. But they just played their hearts out every Friday or Saturday," said Parker. "That's what they did today."
In Game 2, the Lions trailed 2-1 after five innings and then erupted for six runs in the sixth and two in the seventh.
Game 3 saw the Lions score two runs in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead and then put the game away with a six-run explosion in the seventh. "We had to squeeze a couple of times just to get an insurance run. Then the flood gates opened up and we got a few more runs that gave us a comfortable cushion for Hunter (Murray) to come in and shut the door on them."
Murray went the distance in Game 1, giving up four runs (1 earned) on two hits with eight strikeouts and three walks. "It was hot and muggy, but he did a good job," said Parker.
Senior Mason Lowery pitched seven innings in Game 2 and then worked the fourth and fifth frames in Game 3. "I didn't know if Mason still had two good innings left in him, but I told him I needed six outs. Mason said 'I've got it, Coach', and he did it," said Parker.
"Hunter wanted to pitch three innings, but I told him I only needed two. Get six outs for me and I'll be tickled to death," Parker recalled telling the junior moundsman.
"We played fundamental baseball today. We played pretty good defense overall," said Parker.
The Lions collected nine hits in Game 2 and 12 in Game 3. "Eventually we hit the ball when it counted," the coach added.