There were so many heroes in Tuesday night’s District 13-AAA title game in Munford it’s hard to know where to start.
Brighton trailed Hardin County 6-0 early and was down to its last strike in the seventh, but the Cardinals got a ton of key hits and a gutsy pitching peformance from Hunter Deering to pull out an 8-7 victory to win the district tournament title for the second straight season.
With Brighton trailing 7-6 in the top of the seventh, Jake Olivette stepped to the plate with two outs and came up with a two-out double to keep Brighton alive. Dylan Forbes followed him with an RBI single and after Deering shut down Hardin County in the bottom of the inning the game went into extra innings.
Hardin County intentionally walked Dalton Rushing to start the eighth. Sam Dunlap got his fourth hit of the game to load the bases and Garrison McBride walked, forcing in the game-winning run.
Deering, who struck out three and allowed just four hits over eight innings, struck out the final batter with a man on first and the Cardinals stormed the field.
Brighton (22-7) now moves on to the region semifinals and will host Arlington Monday night. Arlington ended Brighton’s season in the game last year.
“Down 6-0, I knew we had to battle,” first-year Brighton head coach Ryan Wood said. “Yeah, the season isn’t over with a loss, and we had secured region, but you always wanna see how much fight your guys have and they answered back. Even down to our last strike in the seventh, we got guys stepping up and wanting to be there.”
Hardin County scored six runs in the second inning with two hits and some Brighton errors.
Brighton got back into the game quickly in the third inning with five runs. A hit by Logan Rushing, two balks and an RBI by Sam Dunlap sparked the rally.
Hardin County went ahead 7-6 in the fourth inning. In the sixth Brighton loaded the bases with no outs but was unable to score, setting up the dramatic seventh inning.
Brighton had a chance to win the title Monday night but lost to Hardin County 1-0, forcing an extra game Tuesday night.
Wood said his guys are excited about winning the title, but have not completed all their goals just yet.
“Being district champs is a nice accolade for our guys. They’ve worked hard and I’m proud of them for defending that title. However, it is not our season. We have checked one goal off and now we’re on to battle a tough and well-coached Arlington team for a chance to make it to sub-state. It’s nice to be district champs, but we want to finish our season May 24 in Murfreesboro.”
Dalton Rushing was named the regular season district MVP and Deering was the tournament MVP. Forbes and Logan Rushing also made all-district and Forbes and Caleb Brewer were named to the all-academic team.