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Mansfield Lions win Summit Conference Tournament title

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At the beginning of the 2020 fall baseball season, the Mansfield Lions baseball team made it midway through the first month with an 0-6 record, including three Summit Conference losses.

After the program was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, head coach Joe Garrison’s players began to realize they were a part of something special and could leave their own legacy while wearing a Lions uniform.

Fast forward one year to last week, Mansfield’s seniors and their teammates did just that after winning three Summit Conference Tournament games to win the program’s first title since the Lions won the state championship in the spring of 2017.

“That was a signature win,” Coach Garrison said after the win. “Our kids flipped the switch and just decided they were going to do this…”I’m thankful for what God has done for us.”

Garrison added that he was happy for his seniors as he noted their past struggles seeking success helped them develop the heart of a champion. The seniors include Jack Grubbs, Dylan Robertson, Ryan Long, Trevor Williams, Madix Gray, Brayden Barnett and Carter Brooke.

“The seven seniors have seen hard times and come out better on the other end,” Garrison added.”

In the finals against the host Seymour Tigers, the key to Mansfield’s success was scoring early against former teammate and pitcher Dylan Henry.

Small ball helped the Lions score their first run as Jack Grubbs’ sacrifice fly plated Kellar Davis for the first run of the game.

Meanwhile, Henry was struggling on the mound. Through the first three innings, he walked three and hit three batters.

The Lions took advantage in the top of the third by scoring four runs to open up a 5-0 lead.

Madix Gray and Dylan Robertson each had RBI singles while Williams added a two-RBI double.

On the defensive side of the ball, Robertson pitched himself out of some early jams. A double play ended a threat in the second inning. Seymour had one out with runners on second and third in the bottom of the third, but were unable to score a run.

Mansfield’s second baseman Trevor Williams had five defensive put-outs in the first five innings.

The Tigers’ offense finally got to Robertson in the bottom of the fifth inning as they scored three runs. Fortunately, former teammate Chade Noble grounded out to end the threat.

An RBI single for the Tigers in the bottom of the sixth inning closed the gap to one. Garrison visited the mound during the inning, but left Robertson in the game. Robertson would get a pop out to end the threat as Williams had his sixth put out.

Needing insurance runs in their final at-bat, Robertson picked the perfect time to hit the Lions first home run of the fall season as his three-run shot to left field put Mansfield in front, 8-4.

In Seymour’s final at-bat, Robertson walked two batters and struck out one. His pitch count limit forced Coach Garrison to hand the ball to freshman Charlie Grubbs. Fortunately, Grubbs did not let the pressure of the situation get to him. He got Noble to pop out to him for a second out before striking out the next batter to win the game.

Robertson tossed six and a third innings and allowed just two earned runs on three hits with three strikeouts. Grubbs had two-thirds of an inning allowing no runs and no hits while striking out one.

“(Dylan) kept challenging the hitters,” Garrison noted. He had confidence in the defense behind him and just went to work.”

Offensively, Robertson had four RBIs and one run scored; Williams had the two RBIs; Madix Gray had one RBI and one run scored; Davis scored twice; while Blake Henry also scored one run.

Before the win, the Lions knocked off Hartville in the semifinals, 6-2.

The game was scoreless through four innings when the Lions put up a five spot in the top of the fifth.

Up three in their final at-bat, Mansfield scored two insurance runs to pull away for the win.

Davis was stellar on the mound, tossing six and one third innings and allowing two earned runs on five hits with 11 strikeouts. Robertson tossed the final two-thirds of an inning of shut out ball and struck out one.

Barnett had two RBIs; Brooke had two RBIs and one run scored; Williams scored twice and had one RBI; while Brock Gray, Long and Robertson each scored one time.

Hartville’s Eric Wilson and Brody McNiel each had one RBI. Wilson and Dakota Stigall scored the lone runs.

Justin Parker tossed two and two-thirds innings and allowed one earned run on three hits with one strikeout. Stigall went four and a third innings and allowed five earned runs on five hits with four strikeouts.

In the opening round, the Lions’ Barnett tossed a complete game shut out, giving up just two hits and striking out nine for a 3-0 win over Conway.

Mansfield scored one time in the second and two runs in the sixth.

Brooke had two RBIs while Long and Williams each scored one run.

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