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Luverne wins 3A state title

After the first inning of the second game of the Class 3A state championship series, Luverne head coach Andre Parks looked into the stands and mouthed one word: “Wow.”

The Tigers put 13 runs on the board in that inning and never looked back.

It could be argued that that inning was the turning point of the series against Madison Academy that ended in Luverne’s first state baseball championship.

“This feels great,” Parks said after the Tigers won the final game 6-3. “It’s even better than I imagined.”

Things didn’t start out so well for the Tigers in the series.

The Mustangs shut Luverne out 9-0 in the opening game, but Luverne used that 13-run first inning in Game Two to make a statement.

“Every time we had our backs to the wall, we came back fighting,” Parks said. “I’m proud of the guys and what they’ve done.”

When the dust cleared in that second game, Luverne had batted around, and Zane Sexton was leading the charge with four RBIs on two hits in the inning.

Madison Academy’s lone run came in the bottom of the second, when Mobley scored on a balk.

Luverne added three runs in the top of the fifth to make the final score 16-1.

Sexton had five RBIs in the game, while Ryan Waters, Corey Hale, Evan Richardson had two each, and Monterio May, Blake Hermeling and Adam Sport each had one.

Madison Academy started the deciding game with two runs off Luverne’s Adam Foster, but the Tigers settled down and picked up where they left off the night before.

With Foster and Ryan Waters on base, May hit a three-run shot to right field to give the Tigers a lead they wouldn’t give up.

Before the inning was over, Blake Hermeling laced a double down the left-field line to score Zane Sexton.

In the bottom of the second inning, Luverne added another run when Corey Hale brought Foster in from third base on a ground ball to put the Tigers up 5-2.

The Mustangs got a run in the top of the seventh inning, but it was too late – May had come in to shut down the game.

Foster gave up six hits and two earned runs in the game, while May closed it out with a two-hit, one-run performance.

“I’ve always dreamed of getting a save in the championship game,” said May, who was named the series MVP for his hot bat and pitching performances. “I woke up this morning and said, ‘I want to save it.'”

The road to championship wasn’t easy for Luverne.

Last week, Dadeville blasted Luverne 10-0 in the first game of the semi-finals, but the Tigers responded with a 10-0 beatdown of their own.

In the deciding game three, Luverne pulled off a 7-3 win.

“We knew the 3A bracket was tough coming in,” Parks said. “Each week I found myself telling the team that we were playing the toughest team yet. Our guys never counted themselves out.”

“It’s a dream come true,” Foster said after the championship win. “You always dream about it, and it really hits you hard when you get here.”