"I'll tell you exactly what I thought," he said. "I didn't think so much about winning or losing the game, although winning a championship would be great and it's what we shoot for. But to be honest I was thinking about what a great group of players we have. These are some really good young men who represent Corinth well. And I couldn't ask any more from this group of seniors--they have been the backbone of this team."
After a productive and positive team practice at Madison Central High School during their off day on Friday, the Warriors arrived at Trustmark Park Saturday around lunch to tangle with the 13-time state champion Knights with a look of certainty in their eyes and the walk of a team not fazed by the pressure of being on a stage this large and this bright.
The Warriors scored first for the third time in this series but for the second straight game saw the Knights rally to win-- this time with a single run in the top of the seventh to take a 3-2 decision and claim the 4A state championship.
It was the 14th gold glove for West Lauderdale and head coach Jerry Boatman and would have been the first for CHS since 1956. Now Corinth will regroup and look to next year as they figure out how to replace five senior starters who have been a part of something special.
"We didn't win this game or the state championship but in my opinion our guys are still winners," Scarbrough said after receiving the runner-up trophy. "We had three young men in Kyle (Crigger), Kerrigan (Maness) and Jackson (Lancaster) who will be going on to play at the next level and we wouldn't have been here without them."
Asked to assess the performance of junior southpaw Treven Knight the Warrior skipper said "he pitched his heart out. He kept the ball down and did his job. This is the third game three he's pitched in the playoffs and the first one he's lost."
The championship game loss was the first time all season that Corinth has lost back-to-back contests which is extremely difficult to achieve at any level: another accomplishment the Tribe can look back on in the future and hang their hats on.
Corinth scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the first when junior first baseman Baylor Frazier sent a lazy-jane bloop single to short left-field, scoring Lancaster and Alex Trice.
They made that stand until the top of the third when West Lauderdale responded with two runs of their own to knot the game at 2-2. With the bases loaded and nobody out Cole Hurst reached on an error by Maness when he grabbed a chopper that bounced just over Knight's glove and fired a rocket to Frazier at first that sailed high and went into the West Lauderdale dugout allowing the tying runs to score.
That was- however- all the damage the Knights could do at that time and the game remained tied until the seventh.
Corinth had chances to add a run in the bottom of the fourth when Avery Davis singled to right with one out and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Knight. But with two outs, Crigger went down on strikes and the threat was over.
West Lauderdale also had an opportunity to score in the top of the sixth when Chance Denson walked to lead off but Lancaster fired a bullet to Spencer Lee just in front of the bag and Lee tagged Denson out to take the threat away. Jeremy Davis followed by lining out to Maness and Chase Tighman struck out to end the top half of the inning.
The seventh didn't start out in West Lauderdale's favor as the nine-hole hitter Kameron Partridge sent a soft grounder back to Knight on the mound. The Corinth pitcher tossed a soft scooper to Frazier and the Warriors were within two outs of winning the game in the bottom of the inning.
But the Knights responded when John Ross Briggs singled to left field and then stole second on a close call.
For the record, Scarbrough threw out two runners to help keep the game even.
Hurst reached on an error and there were runners at the corners with one out. Jake Mason flew out to shallow right to Lee but Lee stumbled after making the over-the-shoulder catch which allowed Briggs to score from third.
There was some controversy over whether or not Briggs tagged up before scoring the go-ahead run as coaches Scarbrough and Boatman conferenced with the umpiring crew but to no avail for the Tribe.
The run was allowed.
Corinth escaped that onslaught by surrendering just the one run and had their chance coming to bat in the bottom half of the final inning.
But it wasn't in the cards this time as Knight was stranded after his lead-off single and West Lauderdale formed the dog-pile that has become a tradition after winning a state championship at any level on the diamond.
"We thought the key for us today was keeping their lead-off hitter off the bases because that's when they come back to get you," Scarbrough mentioned. "This time of year it's about making plays and getting two-out hits and we didn't do that every time we had a chance to."
"These seniors have worked their tails off. You know Corinth hasn't played for a state championship since 1956 so for our guys to come down here and put up this kind of fight against a historically good West Lauderdale team--I'm just proud of them. I know they're hurting right now. I know it's hard to lose a one-run game in a game three like this but I couldn't be any more proud of a bunch of guys."
"We had our chances to win but you can't win at everything in life," the coach continued. "You can't win every game but these guys are still winners--they left it all out on the field."
When asked about the set-up in the seventh with Knight on first and Crigger at the plate with no outs Scarbrough said "he (Crigger) was the co-player of the year in 4A, the player of the year in our division and I just told him if you wanna swing away then swing away--just do whatever you think you need to."
Crigger ultimately fouled out to third on a bunt attempt leaving Knight at first. Knights relief pitcher Partridge then got Maness to fly out to left and Lancaster to fly out to center to end the game.
"That showed just how selfless a team this is," Scarbrough said. "He (Crigger) swung away the first time but then tried to lay down the bunt. He just got too much on it and the ball was up. I'd give him the same chance again if I had to. He's a really good player and we wouldn't be here without him."
Corinth ends one of their most successful seasons in recent history at 29-10 while West Lauderdale finishes at 33-3.
Corinth didn't win the gold glove but they won a spot in the hearts of their fans and supporters. Congratulations to the Warriors on a superb season.
(Kent Mohundro is the sports editor for the Daily Corinthian)
(Saturday, May 20)
HS Baseball/MHSAA 4A State Championship Game
West Lauderdale 3 Corinth 2
WLHS 002 ooo 1 - 3 5 0
CHS 200 000 0 - 2 6 3
(WP) Kameron Partridge (LP) Treven Knight; Multiple Hits: (WL) Cole Hurst 2
LOB: (CHS) 7 (WLHS) 6
(Records) Corinth 29-10 West Lauderdale 33-3
*all three runs for West Lauderdale were unearned.