SMITHS STATION, AL (WTVM) - They say the first kiss is always the sweetest as the Smiths Station Panthers kissing their beloved State Championship trophy.
Mike Ferry and his team are bringing home the program's very first title, and what a ride it's been for Smiths, who arrived at the 7-A title in the most unlikely way.
This looks like a routine ground out to short. But it's so much more than that. It's the culmination of a Cinderella run to a state championship for Smiths Station - an area runner up that polished off four area champs on the way to the title.
"Every series that we played, they were the ranked team and we weren't the ranked team. We haven't been a ranked team all year, but at the end it didn't matter," Ferry said.
Game 1 was about the pitching, as Max Newton tossed a 4-hitter. And it was about the defense, as third baseman Caleb Lynn rose to the occasion to get the final out with the tying run on third and two out in the seventh.
"I've said this all year," Game 1 winning pitcher Max Newton said. "If it wasn't for my defense, I would not have been effective at all because my job isn't for me to blow it by them and strike them out, it's for me to let the defense work and that's what they did for me tonight."
Game 2 was about the bats, but first it was about defense. The Panthers led 4-3 in the fifth, Thompson with the tying run on second and one out, when Blake Rivera made what proved to be the biggest play of the season.
"I didn't think he was going to catch it. I thought there were going to score that run and tie the game up, and if that had happened it would have been a completely different game, so him stepping up and doing that was huge. Especially him turning around and staying in the game and not just accepting the fact that he caught the ball, staying in the game, and coming back ball and throwing out the guy at second," Panthers shortstop Devin Brown said.
A picture perfect finish to the season for the state champion Smiths Station Panthers.