The Brownwood Flames used an improbable comeback to earn a state berth and a trip to the TTAS District 2 Coach Pitch championship game.
Trailing 16-8 with two innings remaining, the Flames scored the final nine runs of the game and retired the final six De Leon Stars batters in order for a 17-16 victory Wednesday at the Camp Bowie Sports Complex.
The Flames will face the Dublin Crush — who knocked off De Leon, 16-8, late Tuesday — in the 6 p.m. championship game. Both teams are headed to the 20-team state tournament in Holland on July 21.
With the Flames down 16-14 in the top of the sixth inning, Zoey Matthews’ RBI single scored Alyssa Quintero to close the gap to one run. Sadie Smith followed with a slow roller in front of the pitching rubber, but the tag was missed near home plate and Ashley Jones scored the tying run.
Madison Chesser then grounded back to the pitcher, but the throw home pulled the catcher off the plate, thus negating the force and allowing Matthews to score what turned out to be the winning run.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Clarissa Landa led off with a single for De Leon. With one out and Landa on second base, Dominique Perez lined out to Matthews at first base. Matthews then raced to second base and beat a retreating Perez back to the bag for the final out.
Brownwood’s rally started with a half dozen runs in top of the fifth inning. Collecting RBI base hits were Jones, Matthews, Chesser and Veanna Sanchez, while Carson Carter added a two-RBI base hit.
The Flames trailed 2-1 after two innings, but grabbed a 5-2 lead with four runs in the third inning. Matthews, Emily Perez, Smith and Carter picked up RBIs in the inning.
De Leon answered with the first of two straight seven-run innings — the maximum amount a team can score in a frame at this age division.
Down 9-5 after three innings, the Flames cut the deficit to 9-8 in the top of the fourth, before the Stars pushed the lead to the largest it would be all game — 16-8 after four complete innings.
Driving in runs for the Flames in the fourth inning were Jones, Matthews and Chesser.