Longhorns sweep Eastwood to win state title

Marengo celebrates its first baseball state title since 2008 after sweeping Eastwood Tuesday.

Marengo Academy finished it Tuesday night. The Longhorns swept Eastwood 7-0 and 18-3 in a doubleheader to win the AISA Class A baseball state championship.

“This means more to me than anything for these kids. It’s such a great group of kids. We were fortunate enough to win it in football. Then to come back with basically the same group and win it in baseball, it means a lot to me,” Marengo Academy coach Woodie Beck said. “This is a fun group of kids to coach. They’re very talented and it just means the world to me for these guys to win.”

John Parker Brock throws a runner out at second base.

David Dunn was as good as he has ever been on the mound for the Longhorns in game one. The senior struck out 13 batters and scattered three hits over seven innings for the complete game shutout. Only four Warrior batters reached base in the game and only one made it beyond first base.

We knew they were aggressive getting on base. David had 13 strikeouts and I thought he just took command of the game,” Beck said. “I’m very proud of David.”

Marengo did more than enough offensively to back up Dunn’s effort as the Longhorns hung three runs on the board in the first inning despite notching only one hit in the frame. Jacob Beck singled with one out and later scored on a bases-loaded walk by Brad Collins. Dalton Daniels then drew a walk to force home Weldon Aydelott. Hunter Parker scored on a passed ball for the 3-0 lead.

The Longhorns added a run in the fourth as Cody Cobb walked and scored on John Parker Brock’s RBI single. Daniels singled in Parker in the fifth to move it to 5-0. The final runs came in the bottom of the sixth as Brock and Beck scored on a two-out error.

Game two saw the Longhorns fall behind 3-0 in the first inning when Davis Petrey scuffled in hitting three batters and walking two in the frame.

Davis Petrey struck out seven batters over five while allowing three earned runs for the win in game two.

“After they scored those three runs, I kind of looked at our pitching coach and said, ‘What do you think?’ He said he was alright,” Beck said. “In the games before this, it has taken Davis two or three innings to settle down and he settled down. He did what we wanted him to do.”

Petrey settled in and surrendered four hits over the next four innings while striking out seven to pick up the victory. Brad Collins pitched the final two innings.

“We got down 3-0 but I thought Davis Petrey recomposed himself and I thought he did a great job. Then, of course, we bring Collins in to close it,” Beck said. “Davis Petrey battled back, we got the lead for him. He has done it for us all year. He has been a warrior all year long. I want to compliment Davis and Brad both for finishing it off.”

Marengo found its offense in the top of the fourth when Cody Cobb singled home Casey Cramer to put his team on the board. Brad Collins then scored on an Austen Day RBI grounder to cut the deficit to 3-2 before a throwing error on the same play allowed Robert Tutt to score and tie the game. Cobb made his way home on John Parker Brock’s RBI fielder’s choice to give the Longhorns a lead they would never lose.

Casey Cramer streaks home for the first Longhorn run of game two.

Marengo added to the lead in the fifth when Collins singled home Hunter Parker to move the advantage to 5-3. Petrey struck out the final three batters he faced before the offense put the game well out of reach.

Brock singled in Cobb and later scored on Jacob Beck’s hit for the 7-3 lead. Aydelott singled in Petrey and Beck to make it 9-3. Parker later scored on an error to stretch the lead to 10-3.

Marengo poured it on further in the seventh, sending 13 batters to the plate and scoring eight runs in the frame. Aydelott singled home Dalton Daniels. Dunn’s RBI walk plated Cameron Dodd. Petrey scored on a passed ball. Tutt hit a sacrifice fly to plate Parker. Cobb doubled in Dunn. Collins and Cobb scored on an error. Petrey doubled home Day to cap the scoring.

What They Came to Do

Marengo Academy (30-7) finally finished things off Tuesday. The Longhorns’ last visit to the state title round ended with a deflating defeat to Edgewood, a loss experienced firsthand by Dunn, Collins and the rest of the Marengo seniors who were then freshmen on the squad.

“We could never get over it. It means a ton. I think I got here in ninth grade and lost to Edgewood,” Dunn said. “Ever since then, that’s what we’ve been shooting for is coming back and finishing it.”

The Longhorns’ win Tuesday makes for the third state title for the school this academic year, the first such season in school history. It also marked the first time since 1990-1991 Marengo earned baseball and football titles in the same season.

The next two seasons, the Longhorns fell to Edgewood in the semifinal round and the frustration continued to build for a program whose expectations are as high as anyone’s in the AISA.

Entering play Tuesday, no Edgewood awaited the Longhorns. Still, Beck and his players were anything but easy about the opponent that his team had drawn.

“They were fast. They were scrappy. They were really competitive at the plate. They would battle you all day long,” Dunn said.

“This team here concerned me because I heard so much about them, about how fundamentally sound they were. They were very fundamentally sound,” Beck said.

Beck was in attendance at Lagoon Park Saturday as the Marengo Academy softball team stunned Abbeville and won the AISA Class A state softball championship. He was on the sidelines in Troy in November 2016 as the Longhorn football team came from behind to beat Chambers Academy for the AISA Class A state football championship. And Beck knew exactly what kind of character his baseball team possessed after their quarterfinal rally against a game Crenshaw team.

“These guys were the type all year that if you ever let them get ahead of you, it seemed like that momentum kept carrying over and they just got better and better as the game went on,” Beck said. “The same result happened today. They’ll get down but they won’t quit. We were down to Crenshaw 9-5 in the seventh inning with two outs and we battled back and won that. It’s just a tribute to these kids. It takes a great community. It takes great parents. It takes everything to win a championship and that’s what we have at Marengo, great people. I’m just so proud for these kids. It’s easy on a coach when you can come in and coach a group like this.”

David Dunn, who earned MVP honors, struck out 13 in game one. The title victory marked the completion of a long-held goal for Dunn.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s win, Dunn reflected on a 2016-2017 academic year that has included three state championships for his school.

“I don’t know if it has ever been done at Marengo all in one year. It’s awesome,” he said.

But winning a state championship was not only what the Longhorn baseball team came to do, it was what Dunn and his family came to do when the Meridian Community College signee enrolled at Marengo Academy as a freshman.

“Something like this, just being with, like, a family, coming to win a championship,” Dunn, who was homeschooled through the eighth grade, said of the reason he opted to don the orange and white. “That’s not something that was happening a lot with the homeschool team that I was playing with.”

Brad Collins watched his older brother Wood earn MVP honors during the last Longhorn baseball title run. That feat occurred nine years ago this week. Tuesday, Collins finished the 2017 Marengo state title run by striking out the final batter he faced.

He wanted to play for a reputable program, so we really left it up to him,” Jim Dunn, David’s father, said of the decision to enroll his son at Marengo Academy. “He was playing quality baseball with the homeschool group out of Tuscaloosa and they had a good program going, but that ride got really long. He made the decision in the ninth grade and it has been a cool ride.”

That “cool ride” has seen David earn ASWA All-State honors, win a state championship, and receive Most Valuable Player recognition for his performance Tuesday night.

“It’s pretty emotional knowing the hard work that they’ve put in, not just him but many of these boys and we’re just proud of the whole bunch and him too,” Jim Dunn said.

Now the Longhorn senior turns his attention to graduation and, shortly thereafter, his impending enrollment at Meridian Community College where he hopes to hone his craft in view of an eventual SEC offer.

“I play this summer. I’ll play summer baseball with East Coast. Really, I’m just trying to perfect my pitches this summer, hopefully add a mile or two. I want to be ready to pitch whenever I go in the fall,” David said.

“It’s a great thing. Mississippi really does a good job of taking care of their home folks and they don’t give but two out-of-state scholarships, every junior college does. So, he had to be one top of his game to get an offer over there and he did,” Jim said of seeing his son get such an offer. “He got others and he felt like he took the best offer that was available to him out of several JUCOs in Alabama and Mississippi also. He got offers out of a Division I school in Louisiana and a Division II school here in the state, but he just felt like, to get to the next level that they really do a good job of developing their ballplayers.”