Jonah Smith had a staggering two days and culminated his MVP performance by driving in a two-RBI walk-off winner in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 3 of the Class 1A state baseball championship.
With bases loaded and one out, Smith drilled an inside breaking ball through the gap between shortstop and third base to bring in pinch runner Trenton Sams and Shamar Lewis for the 8-7 victory over 2016 state champion Decatur Heritage Christian in the deciding game.
Sweet Water started Game 3’s scoring early with a RBI from Hunter Mendenall to score William Huckabee in the bottom of the first, then Mendenhall scored from a Luke Davis RBI. The Bulldogs would add four more runs in the second and third innings to take a 6-0 lead.
After one run in the fourth, Decatur Heritage broke their scoring open in the top of the sixth with a five-run burst capped by Heath Bolton’s RBI single. Four of the runs came with two outs in the inning. Both teams would then be held scoreless to end the seventh and head to extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, Decatur Heritage scored on a fielder’s choice to second with bases loaded. After bases were loaded again, the Eagles looked to have added another run with a sac fly from Trace Lentz, but the umpires determined Lynn Buckner left the bag too early. That led to Smith’s heroics in the bottom half.
In Game 2, Decatur Heritage began the scoring in the second inning with a sacrifice fly from Garrett Buckner that scored Jackson Parker. Sweet Water didn’t get their first hit off Grayson Wakefield until the beginning of the fourth, but Jonah Smith capitalized running in to score from second base on a groundout.
Carter Sample broke the 1-1 tie for the Eagles in the bottom of the sixth with a run on an fielder’s choice before Decatur Heritage closed out Sweet Water in the top half of the seventh.
Game 1 was highlighted by Smith’s pitching for Sweet Water as he struck out seven and gave up just four hits in a 4-2 victory on Monday. Down 4-1 in the seventh, Decatur Heritage had a prime opportunity with bases loaded and no outs. However, Smith would strike the first batter out before getting two straight fly outs to end the game.
It’s the Bulldogs’ first state title since 1990, which was their last appearance in a state final. Sweet Water was a dominant program in the late 70s and throughout the 80s, winning eight state championships from 1979 to 1990 in 1A and 2A.