It was a history-making day for the London High School baseball team, who played in their first state championship game Saturday at Rocund Rock’s Dell Diamond.
When you look back on London’s season, it's almost a miracle they made it as far as they did.
"When I started as a freshman, we went 0-8 in district, and everyone counted us out,” said pitcher Zach Britton. “Our school, and our district, and everybody really was down on us, and we had so much to prove."
In one of the most incredible turnarounds in South Texas baseball history, these London Pirates have more-than-proven they can win -- and win big, despite what the so-called experts predicted way back before the season ever began.
"So we were picked last, and that really put a chip on our shoulder, and so we really fought hard,” said outfielder Corbin Egebrecht. “(We) have a lot of freshman and new blood on the team, so we worked really hard and came out practiced for hours, and I think its really paying off."
The big payoff: a trip to the state tournament. This is the first time this has ever happened for a London baseball team.
Not bad for a team picked last in their own district.
“We just had a chip on our shoulder from everyone just doubting on us, and we wanted to come out with something to prove," said shortstop Mason Jacob.
Their success came behind incredible pitching; a team ERA just over 2.00; all eight position players hitting over .300; and a stellar defense.
But more importantly: Plain old-fashioned teamwork.
"We came ready to play, and practiced like we were last, and we just kept on practicing and getting better and better everyday," said pitcher John Martinez
"Their focus and mentality is there and this team is real hungry so we are going to fight and do whatever we can to win each and every game," said pitcher Henry Sepulveda.
As for the game, circle the fifth inning as the first really defining moment. That's when London trailed Malakoff 4-2.
Jacob comes up huge, here, ripping a gapper into left center. Two runs will score, and the game is tied at four.
Jayden Martinez then hits it just past the reach of the Malakoff second baseman, and Jacob scores the go-ahead run.
And then Landon Salinas lays down a great bunt, and another Pirate runner scores.
London took a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, but that's when things went horribly wrong.
Malakoff scored twice to get within 7-6, but with two outs and the bases loaded, a hit batsman ties the game at seven.
And the very next Tigers batter gets hit, and this proved to be the Class 3A game-winning championship run: 8-7 is the final.
Not the way you want to go out, but for these London Pirates, this season will always be special.
“It's unfortunate it happened like this,” said Kevin Carr, the Pirates’ co-head coach. “We played a group that had nine seniors, and we're a lot of underclassmen, but a lot of it just came down to some decisions at the end and unfortunately it didn't work our way.”