By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Fast forward to May 13, 2019, a motivated Brighton Cardinal squad earned another home Region game after capturing the District 13-3A crown. The Tigers made it a rematch by finishing second in District 14-3A.
Coming into the Monday night do-or-die contest, the Cardinals were the favorites being one of the best teams in the state all year. Some baseball experts said Arlington reaching this game was a good enough season.
The Tigers felt differently putting together enough hits and exploding for five runs in the fifth inning to prevail 8-3 over the Cardinals.
“It feels good because we came out and played as a team, hit as team and acted as team,” Arlington senior catcher Cooper Tremmel said. “That’s all we’ve been try to do all season. We did it tonight and it showed.”
Arlington advanced to the Wednesday night Region 7-3A Championship game to take on the Bartlett Panthers. Both the Tigers and Panthers will play in Sub-State against either the Houston Mustangs or Collierville Dragons Friday.
The Tigers’ path to Sub-State began by taking a 3-0 lead over Brighton after two and half innings. Arlington’s Blake Smith used a sacrifice bunt to drive in the Tigers’ second run. Moments later Dylan Saquic hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Wade Gray.
Arlington’s 3-0 advantage was erased in the bottom of the third inning when the Cardinals scored 3 runs. Brighton’s Hunter Deering drove in a pair of runs with a double.
Brighton deadlocked the game at 3-3 when Sam Dunlap placed down a bunt to score a run.
For the next few batters, Brighton’s Deering and Arlington’s Drew Edwards neutralized the batters.
Then Deering ran into some trouble in the fifth inning when Tremmel crushed a one-out triple. Canon Linebaugh followed with single to break the tie.
After a walk and a single by Austin Randall, Adam Hughes stepped to the plate for the Tigers.
“I think we’ve been the underdog and everybody likes the feel,” Hughes said. “It motivates us even more to come out and beat everybody.
“He (Deering) had me down in the count,” he added. “He had two strikes on me. I was looking for fastball and he gave me curve.”
Hughes smacked the offering pass the Brighton infield for a two-run single making the score 6-3.
The final big blow of the frame came off the bat of Garret Brewer hitting a double to drive in two more runs.
Arlington’s 5-run advantage was kept secure by the relief effort of Parker Cannon. He lived up to his name firing in pitches to keep the Cardinal bats quiet.
For the second year in a row, the Tigers survived Regional Monday by outlasting Brighton.
“Got to stay focused and don’t look to far ahead,” Tremmel said. “Got to look at the inning in front of you.”
Hughes, a junior, said the Tigers are also motivated by their leaders on the team to reach State.
“We want to give all the glory to God,” he concluded. “We’re out here fighting as a team. The seniors out here keep thinking, ‘This isn’t going to be my last game.’”
The next game for the Tigers was the Region 7-3A championship last Thursday at Bartlett. The Panthers took the crown 5-2 sending the Tigers on the road for the Sub-State round against Collierville.
The Collierville Dragons entered Friday’s game as the Region 8-3A champions and one of the best teams in Class 3A all season. Arlington was able to pull off the 4-3 upset and secure a spot in this week’s Class 3A State Baseball Tournament in Murfreesboro. The Tigers drew Independence in the opening round of State.