VINTON — The Vinton Lions picked a perfect time to break out of slump.
Vinton lost eight of its last nine regular season games, four of them were by three runs or less, and looked to be headed for another rough afternoon after falling behind 3-0. But the Lions were able to rally to beat Doyle 8-7 in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs on Monday.
“This is a game that the last few weeks that we have been losing,” Vinton head coach Jason Tharp said. “It was a really good deal for them to stick together and never give up.
“We had a little rough spot the last few weeks and lost some really close games and it was all because of that one inning that we would get down and just could never get back up.”
It is the first playoff win for the Lions (14-9) since 2001.
“It has been a long time since Vinton has won a playoff game,” Tharp said. “It is a special moment and we are going to enjoy it.”
Down 8-7 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Tony St. Julien led off with a hit to center field and scored the tying run on a single to left field by Tanner Young. Zack Courville hit a fly ball for the second out but Doyle left fielder Kyle Welda’s throw home was off the mark allowing Young to score the go-ahead run.
Courville was the third Lion to take the mound and earned his seventh win of the season after pitching one and one-third scoreless innings.
Doyle nearly scored the tying in the top of the seventh but Mason Davis was gunned down at the plate by Vinton left fielder Dalton Haley and Courville struck out Trenton Mizell to end the game.
After falling behind early, the turning point for the Lions was an inning ending double play in the top of the third inning. Tyson Stewart, who had hit a RBI double in the first inning, ripped a shot toward second baseman Dylan Randle who was able to make a leaping catch and throw to first to catch Cole Mack off the bag.
With the momentum in their favor, the Lions scored three runs in the bottom of the third including a RBI single by Tanner Young to go up 4-3.
Doyle (10-21) scored four runs in the sixth off two bases loaded walks and Wyatt Bankston’s two-run single with two outs, but the Tigers were undone by seven errors on defense.
Vinton will play a best-of-three series starting on Friday at 6 p.m. at No. 3 Lakeside (25-10). The second game will start at 11 a.m. on Saturday and the third game, if necessary, at 1 p.m.
Vinton 8, Doyle 7
Doyle 300 004 0—7-8-7
Vinton 013 202 X—8-10-3
PITCHING: W — Zack Courville (7-1). L — Wyatt Bankston.
TOP HITTERS: Doyle — Cole Mack 2-2 (RBI), Tyson Stewart 2-3 (run, RBI, double), Wyatt Bankston 1-2 (2 RBIs). Vinton — Tony St. Julien 2-4 (3 runs), Dalen Guillory 2-4 (run, RBI), Tanner Young 2-3 (2 runs, 2 RBIs), Dylan Randle 2-3 (run).
RECORDS: Doyle — 10-21. Vinton — 15-9.