NACOGDOCHES–The Malakoff Tigers picked up two huge wins May 27 and 29 as they defeated the Woodville Eagles to advance to the Region 3 Final.
The Tigers picked up a 4-0 shutout win over the Eagles May 27 before dropping their game in eight straight contests with a 2-1 win Saturday afternoon. In a winner-take-all game three, the Tigers completed a late comeback to defeat the Eagles 6-5 and advance.
On Thursday night at Nacogdoches High School, the Tigers came out with a strong start in game one.
Malakoff plated three runs in the bottom of the first inning to take an early 3-0 lead.
The Tigers plated one more run in the bottom of the third and got dominant pitching from Alan Benhardt on the mound on their way to a 4-0 shutout victory.
Jack Davis picked up two hits and drove in two runs for the Tigers. Brandon Nations added two hits and an RBI in the win over Woodville.
Benhardt through a complete game, tossing seven shutout innings, surrendering just three hits and striking out 10 Eagles batters.
After celebrating their 2021 seniors’ graduation Friday, May 28, the Tigers went back to work and hoped to keep their season rolling Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles plated an early run in the bottom of the first inning to take their first lead of the series.
Woodville added another run in the third inning to increase their lead over Malakoff to 2-0.
Malakoff scratched across a late run in the top of the seventh inning but fell short as they dropped game two, 2-1.
The lone RBI came off the bat of Wes Hustead for the Tigers. The loss snapped an eight-game win streak for Malakoff and ended a streak of three straight series sweeps.
Needing a win to keep both their seasons alive Saturday night, the Tigers and Eagles battled to the final at-bat in game three.
Woodville got off to a good start with an early run in the bottom of the second inning.
Malakoff responded by plating two runs in the top of the third inning to move in front, 2-1.
The two teams exchanged runs in the fourth inning with Malakoff leading 3-2 entering the fifth inning.
Woodville pushed their way back in front after tying in the game in the fifth inning as they plated two runs in the sixth inning to take a 5-3 lead and moved within three outs of eliminating the Tigers.
The Tigers, needing at least two runs to keep their season alive, came up with some late-game magic.
Nations delivered an RBI single for the Tigers to make it a 5-4 game. A single from Nathan Jones loaded the bases for Riggin Smith as the Tigers were down to their final out.
Smith delivered with a two-out, two-run single to put Malakoff in front for good as the Tigers shut down the Eagles in the bottom of the seventh to advance to their first Regional final in school history.
The Tigers received two hits from Benhardt and Nations with Nations and Smith driving in two runs apiece.
Malakoff (34-7) will face the Cameron Yoe Yoemen (27-7) in the best-of-three Region 3 final with a trip to the State championship on the line.
Game one is at 7 p.m., Thursday, June 3 at Sam Houston State University. Game two of the series is set for 7 p.m., Friday, June 4. Game three, if necessary, will be 2 p.m., Saturday, June 5 at Sam Houston State University.