On his road to recovery from a pair of ACL surgeries, Oak Grove’s Kade Shannon never dreamed of doing what he did Tuesday night. For him, just taking the field again with his teammates would suffice and be a blessing.
“These are my brothers,” he said. “I’ve grown up with some of these guys, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
They were there during the hard times, and they were there Tuesday at the home plate of Harry Breland Field as Shannon rounded third base just seconds after taking George County’s Trevor McDonald—one of the state’s top arms—deep over the left field fence for a three-run blast.
“He [McDonald] threw me one inside, and I made him pay,” Shannon said. “He made a mistake, and you can’t take those for granted when you’re facing Trevor McDonald.”
Following an RBI from DeeJay Booth, Shannon’s shot put Oak Grove up 4-0 in the first inning and proved to be a catalyst for their bats moving forward. The Warriors (16-5) pounded out 11 more hits, including two solo homers, en route to dismantling the Rebels, 11-4, and putting themselves in perfect position to capture their third straight Region 5-6A title with a win at Meridian on Friday.
“It set the tone,” Oak Grove coach Chris McCardle said of Shannon’s homer. “That was a big hit for us. We had a plan, we stuck to it and he got a good pitch to drive. He hammered it.
“We swung the bats good. We didn’t get behind like we did the first time we played, and we jumped on fastballs when we had the opportunity.”
McCardle’s Warriors went up 5-0 in the second inning off a sacrifice-fly from Kris Jones that scored John Rhys Plumlee, but the Rebels answered with a three spot in the fourth to cut the lead to 5-3. Ethan Coleman sent two George County runners home with a hit, and McCardle proceeded to go to his bullpen, replacing his starter, Jones, with Luke Lyon.
Lyon allowed the third run to score as Logan Tanner collected a one-out, RBI single, but that was as close as the Rebels would ever get to taking the lead. Lyon, who leads Oak Grove in innings pitched by over 20 this year, got a flyout and a groundout to escape the inning. The junior right-hander settled in and went the final three innings, striking out seven George County batters.
“Luke came in, got us out of a jam and did what he usually does in keeping us in the game,” McCardle said.
The Warriors went on to add two runs in their half of the fourth off solo homers from Lyon and Jones, and in the sixth they added four more off RBI hits from Lyon, Cade Cuevas and Turner Swistak to blow the game wide-open and go up 11-4.
“We gotta learn to come to the park every game and play like we did tonight,” McCardle said. “It’s tough on these young kids, but I’m proud of them. It’s been a long, fighting season trying to get things figured out and moving people in and out, but we fought hard.”
Now a win away from the Region 5-6A title, the Warriors will conclude division play Friday night at Meridian. The Wildcats are 0-8 in the division, but McCardle isn’t prepared to take them lightly, especially with what’s at stake. With an Oak Grove loss Friday, George County would take the crown.
“We’ll be back to work tomorrow because we gotta win one more,” he said.