MALAKOFF–The Malakoff Tigers took the sting out of losing their season finale against the Blooming Grove Lions – which forced a tie for the district title with 13-1 records – by beating that same team two days later to clinch the district’s top postseason seed.
Malakoff and Blooming Grove were originally scheduled to play the regular-season finale April 30 in Malakoff, but that game was rained out, forcing a May 1 neutral-site contest in Corsicana. Blooming Grove won that game 3-0.
Before a standing-room only crowd May 3 for Malakoff’s belated Senior Night, the Tigers hosted the Lions to decide the district’s playoff seeding; the top seed decides whether its Bi-district round is one game or a best two-of-three series.
Malakoff scored first in the bottom of the second inning when pitcher Riggin Smith singled in left fielder Nate Jones. In the bottom of the third, a wild pitch scored center fielder Alan Benhardt and a Smith hit-by-pitch scored Brandon Nations, giving Malakoff a 3-0 lead.
Second baseman Wes Hustead pulled off a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the fifth to score Jones, then with the bases loaded, first baseman Cole Gaddis walked in third baseman Erik Waldo. A Nations hit-by-pitch scored Hustead, extending the Tiger lead to 6-0.
Hustead relieved Smith on the mound in the top of the seventh inning, coaxing a force-out at second base to end the game.
Malakoff, which ended its regular season at 25-6, was ranked No. 3 in Class 3A in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association May 3 poll. Blooming Grove was ranked No. 5.