ROUND ROCK, Texas — The London Pirates returned to the Class 3A State Championship contest for the second straight season on Saturday, but this time, with another goal in mind:
Avenge the loss of the previous season in the final.
After duking it out with Brock for more than three hours inside Dell Diamond, the Pirates were finally able to hold up the trophy that alluded them last season; their first in program history.
But not before the two went through a 16-13 slobberknocker.
The game went back-and-forth from the first pitch.
Brock's Cam Harris hit a ball to the right field wall for an RBI double that opened up a four-run first inning.
"When we go down early, we know we have a lineup that can bounce back, and give us that opportunity to get back,” London co-head coach Kevin Carr said.
The Pirates followed the next inning and tied things up thanks to a Jacob Gonzales walk with bases loaded.
However, Brock answered right back with five more runs in the second led behind Harris, this time with a bases clearing triple.
The Pirates returned fire in the second, as Blake Watters and RJ Olivares put the ball in play to score three runs for the Pirates.
Tournament MVP Watters said the coaches and seniors on the squad kept pushing the team both times they went down.
"They kept us in it, told us don’t lose focus, said it was going to be a high-scoring game, we knew it after that first inning," Watters said. "We just had to keep hitting the ball."
Olivares — the lone freshmen on the team — hit a bloop single in the bottom of the fourth inning that helped tie things up at 9-9. He finished with four RBI on the day.
"There’s not that many freshmen that start on varsity in the state finals," Olivares said of being able to come up big in the game. "It’s just very special to me, I’ve been working for this all my life.”
Later in the fourth, Watters drove in Olivares to give London the 10-9 lead.
Through the rest of the fourth and the fifth, the Pirates added five more runs.
Depsite Brock cutting the lead to two in the sixth, the Pirates capped the Eagles scoring chances for the remainder of the contest, while also adding one more run.
Watters struckout the final Brock batter in the top of the seventh and gloves began to fly for the newly crowned state champions.
For Landon Salinas, the win was an achievement that he knew his late grandfather — South Texas baseball legend, Hector Salinas — would be proud of.
"I know he’s here watching, I know he’s here with me," Salinas said. "It’s awesome, this is for him right here, because I know he’d love being here with me."
As for one of co-head coaches, winning the title was well deserved for his team, after waiting a whole year to do it.
"No matter what game you’re here, those last three outs are the toughest, and it looks like we grew up from last year," Carr said. "Nobody deserves it more than these boys, they worked hard all year."