Drew McDonald hasn’t had the best season for the Sanderson baseball team.
But the senior came through in the clutch when it really counted, delivering two two-out, two-run singles that helped the Spartans overcome the Millbrook Wildcats 8-7 to claim the Cap-8 4A championship.
McDonald delivered a two-run single in the third that gave Sanderson a 5-3 lead. Later, he game through on 0-2 pitch with another two-run single that tied the game at 7-7.
“It’s been a struggle for me this year,” McDonald said. “I haven’t been playing that well. I just had to get my confidence back. I just thought, ‘Why am I thinking so much? Just go up there and hit.’ I got a couple pitches to work with, and I was lucky enough to drive them to the outfield.”
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Jared Tintsman followed in the sixth with a run-scoring single that gave Sanderson the lead it would not relinquish.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” McDonald said of winning the conference title. “This team has been unbelievable. To come back from being down, that’s the way we do it. That’s how it’s been all year, and it’s an unbelievable feeling, unbelievable.”
Sanderson won its third conference title in the past four years.
“I applaud these guys,” Spartans coach Todd Laughlin said. “They have worked hard year, and all 18 of them have been committed to whatever they could do to help the team. It took all 18 of them. I commend them for that selflessness and team effort.”
Millbrook was looking for its first Cap-8 4A championship since 2009 and was looking good early until starting pitcher Cole Leneschmidt was hit with a line drive. Leneschmidt later walked off the field with teammates, carrying an ice bag on his head
“He went straight to the hospital, and they did whatever they do to check him out, and I guess it’s a good thing he’s got a hard noggin,” Wildcats coach Austin James said. “But he seems to be fine, and the first thing he wanted to do was get back here.
“That game was a really, really tough pill to swallow, but more important than that was seeing him walk back out here just fine with nothing but a Band-Aid on his head.”
The Wildcats can point to postseason success – without a conference title – as the 4A playoffs begin next week.
“Next week, it’s 0-0, and it’s worked out OK for us the last two years,” James said. “That doesn’t change the fact that we really wanted to win that game, obviously. But we have to erase this real quick, because it’s going to be a new season starting Tuesday or Wednesday.”