VINITA - Offense was the key to Miami winning the Oklahoma American Legion AAA state baseball title.
Post 147 (22-2) hit .406 as a team while scoring 37 runs in its three games. It needed all it could get in the final, when it outslugged Wilburton 18-12.
"It never comes easy," Miami coach Chad Ross said. "We hit the ball real well. We can't say enough about that. Almost everybody had a hit."
The title was the first ever for Miami in American Legion competition and marked its first in high school-age level competition since Miami High School won the Class 3A title in 1987.
"It's a testament to Miami's baseball program," Ross said. "It started with Coach Crosbie (Chris Crosbie, who guided MHS to the 3A title). Chris (current MHS coach Chris Mercer) has done a great job bringing it along, teaching these guys the game. We're only losing three guys and have 10 guys coming back that are Miami guys. They know how to play the game and they play hard. There is a lot of tradition there."
Senior-to-be Brett Abell, who helped the Wardogs reach the 4A state tournament in May, earned most valuable player honors Saturday for his bat as much as for his arm.
He picked up two wins on the mound for Post 147, stopping Seminole in Thursday's opener.
Then against Wilburton in the title game, he came on in relief in the third inning with Post 147 hanging on to a precarious 12-10 lead. Miami had used three other pitchers - Joe Pilkinton, Grand Longcrier and Nick Maxson - before Abell slowed the bleeding.
"We hung in there as long as we could with our pitching," Ross said. "We finally got to a point where we could bring Brett in and he did a good job. We could have brought Jared (White) in. He could have thrown an inning or two if we needed him."
Abell had six innings remaining under the tournament's pitching rule. He had thrown 115 pitches in his earlier appearance on Thursday.
The Rockets got an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth and Cory Keith led off the fifth with a homer. They threatened in the sixth and seventh but Abell worked out of trouble.
"It felt good, really good," Abell said. "I don't think I played enough catch (to warm up before entering the game). That's why I couldn't find a groove. I didn't get to warm up."
At the plate, Abell went 7-for-12. He was 5-for-6 in the championship game, scoring four times and collecting two RBIs.
The teams took turns battering each other through the first three innings, allowing the game to take on a football-sounding 12-10 score.
o Miami jumped out 3-0 in the first only to have the Rockets get three of their own in the bottom of the first.
o Post 147 took a 7-3 lead in the top of the second, but Wilburton came back with five runs of its own to grab an 8-7 advantage.
o The Spoonbills mounted a five-run rally of their own in the top of the third, but Wilburton picked up two more to create a 12-10 score.
While Abell slowed the Rockets down, Miami's offense continued to generate runs.
Post 147 picked up two runs in the fifth, got a leadoff homer from Henson in the fifth and used back-to-back doubles from Abell and White to score the final tally in the seventh.
In the Wilburton half of the seventh, leadoff batter Cameron Green was hit by a pitch, but Dalton Fezgkas hit into a tailor-made double play to second baseman James Pickens.
Abell then got Dakota Knight to hit a grounder to Henson at shortstop. He fired to Longcrier at first to start the celebration.
The whole team converged just behind the pitcher's mound and wound up in a huge dogpile as part of the celebration.
"These guys earned it," Ross said. "They fought their rears off. They will always be remembered as the 2007 Legion AAA state champs."
Freeman was 4-for-4 with a double and four RBIs at the plate as part of Miami's 19-hit attack.
White had two doubles and a single. Henson had a single to go with her homer and Pickens chipped in with two singles.
Pilkinton, Josh White and Longcrier each had singles.