The Carriel Cougars’ magic season came to an end in the championship game at the Southern Illinois Junior High School Athletic Association Class L State Tournament.
Carriel lost 6-1 to the Highland Bullpups in the title game.
Carriel, which had advanced to the state tournament by winning its regional and 12 out of its last 13 games, finished with an overall record of 15-6.
In the quarterfinals, Carriel was matched up against Southern Illinois power, Benton. The game ended up begin a pitching duel, as Cory Quintal tossed his second consecutive one-hitter in earning the 1-0 victory. Rodell Andrews scampered home with the game’s only run when the rightfielder misplayed an Andrews’ single into a three-base error.
In the semi-final game, Carriel played Millstadt. The game did not start out very well for the Cougars, as Millstadt took an early 2-1 lead after three innings. But in the top of the fourth, Carriel got five straight hits and scorded four runs to take a 6-2 advantage. Chase Dumstorff made it hold up, as he pitched the final 3 1/3 innings, allowing only one run. The Cougars won by a final score of 6-3.
The Cougars ran into some bad luck in the championship game against Highland.
“We hit some absolute bombs that their outfielders made some outstanding catches, but that there is a typical Highalnd team — well coached and take advantage of your mistakes,” said Tracy Lauderdale, Carriel’s eighth-grade coach. “We came out a little nervous and gave up a couple unearned runs early, which we hadn’t been doing for the past three weeks.”
Still, Highland only had a 3-1 lead going into the last inning.
“We gave up three more runs, and we just kind of ran out of gas in the last game,” Lauderdale said.
But it was still a historic season.
“We had a great season, and it is the highest that Carriel had ever finished at the state tournament,” Lauderdale said.