CONWAY — The Conway Wampus Cats won their first 7A State Title since 1989 by defeating the Bryant Hornets Sunday 12-3 in seven innings thanks to a complete game by tournament MVP Connor McClain.
“It feels awesome and we had a great time,” Conway head coach Noel Boucher said. “This is our sixth time to be here and a couple of bounces here or there, things would have been different.
“I’m just real pleased with the effort tonight.”
Conway scored seven runs in the top of the second.
“One bad inning and sometimes when that stuff gets rolling against good teams it is hard to stop them, hard to put the brakes on,” Bryant coach Kirk Bock said. “We knew they could swing it.”
Tyler Langley led off with a single to left and advanced to second on a single by J.T. Blackwell. Collin Fluesmeier bunted and reached second on Bryant’s Jordan Taylor’s wild throw to first.
The error also allowed Langley to score and Blackwell to advance to third as the ball bounced over the right field wall. Cole Anderson singled to center with one out, plating both Langley and Blackwell.
After a fielder’s choice, stolen base and error, Ryan Lazo would score on a double by Aaron Boucher. Wesley Hoover singled up the middle to advance Boucher to third.
Connor McClain singled through the hole at second base to plate Boucher. A single by Langley scored two more runs and gave Conway a 7-0 lead.
McClain pitched seven innings, allowing three runs (all earned) on seven hits with seven strikeouts and two walks.
“He did an awesome job,” Boucher said. “He has been a go-to guy all year. Conner just held it out and did wonderful.”
Bryant scored two runs in the third.
Tyler Nelson reached on a one-out walk, and Tyler Brown followed up with a single up the middle. Taylor reached on a single to load the bases. A fielder’s choice allowed Nelson to score. Brown scored on an RBI single by Chris Joiner and cut the deficit to 7-2.
Conway scored three more runs in the fifth and two in the sixth.
Bryant scored a run in the bottom of the sixth thanks to an RBI single by Joiner that scored Hayden Daniel from third.
Nelson was 1-3 with a walk, and Brown was 2-3 with a run scored. Taylor had a walk, and Pickett was 1-3 with one RBI. Joiner was 2-3 with two RBIs, and Josh Pultro was 1-2.
Taylor, the starting pitcher, allowed seven runs (two earned) on six hits with a walk and a strikeout. Dylan Cross allowed four runs (all earned) on five hits with four walks and two strikeouts.
Caleb Milam allowed a run (earned) on three hits and a walk and a strikeout. Nelson pitched an inning of relief.
Bock said Taylor’s mistake in the second inning happened after he charged in and tried to throw the ball around the first baseman, which “put us in a bad spot.”
“I felt like if we had made that play, things would have been different,” Bock said. “It is certainly no one’s fault, it is just how things linked up.”
Bryant finished the game with seven hits and two errors and left five runners on base in Sunday’s championship game.