Lakeside School achieved something Tuesday no other team in this year’s Alabama Independent School Association Class A playoffs had done.
The Chiefs made mighty Edgewood play beyond five innings — twice.
“We just took it lightly,” Wildcats senior leadoff hitter Rod Boykin said with a smile. “We were going to win anyway. It wasn’t that big of a deal.”
Extra play didn’t change the expected and historic outcome, though.
Winners of its last 21 games, Edgewood (44-3) swept Lakeside (20-12) in the best-of-three series to capture an unprecedented fifth consecutive state title before 515 fans at Paterson Field.
“I get butterflies in my stomach every time I think about it,” said tournament MVP, senior right hander Bailey Hansen. “It’s just crazy.”
The Wildcats took Game 1 in six innings, 10-0, and wrapped up the title clincher, 13-2, in six innings.
“It feels great to get No. 5 and go out a winner,” said Wildcats senior first baseman Dylan Ingram, who has signed to play at Mississippi State.
Edgewood and Demopolis Academy were sharing history as being the only AISA schools to win four-straight state baseball titles.
The Wildcats now stand alone.
“I can remember my first year coaching,” said Edgewood coach Bobby Carr, whose program has gone a fascinating 163-15 in the last four years. “I remember praying, ‘God if you want me to coach, you’re going to have to send some athletes.’ Boy has he answered the prayer and then some.”
Edgewood’s convincing sweep of Lakeside earned the school a ninth state title. Hansen (10-0) pitched a no-hitter in Game 1 and senior Gage Pregno (12-2) ripped off 11 strikeouts in Game 2.
“We just know how to get the job done,” said Hansen, a senior right hander who allowed only one base runner on a walk. “Our defense is unbelievable and our offense is incredible.”
The Wildcats outscored their playoff opponents by a ridiculous 70-3 margin and drummed out 27 hits in the best-of-3 championship series.
The Chiefs managed just two hits total in the two games.
“It’s not as easy as it looks,” said Edgewood senior third baseman John Mark Cosby, who went 6-of-8 with five RBIs and six runs scored in the two games. “We put in a lot of work. Even after football practice, we’ll go hit (baseball). It’s a team effort. We’ve put in work all year.”
Vestavia Hills (1994-2000) won seven consecutive state titles ,while Sidney Lanier (1950-55), G.W. Long (1997-2002) and Hokes Bluff took six straight, but they’re all AHSAA schools.
“I remember when Bobby Carr got to Edgewood and he’s done a great job with those kids,” said Lakeside coach Allen Ponder, who played baseball at Alabama and Auburn Montgomery. “A program like Edgewood, they put kids in college every single year.”
Ingram (Mississippi State), Boykin (Alabama State), Pregno (Samford), Hansen (Jacksonville State) and Cosby (Jeff Davis CC) have all signed scholarships.
“So every offseason, kids want to come to Edgewood because they want that opportunity to play for a state championship and also have a better opportunity to move on to the next level,” Ponder continued. “As a high school player, you want to go where you have the best opportunity not only to win, but to advance your career to the next level and he gives them that great opportunity.”
The Wildcats’ three losses were to AISA Class AAA schools Pike Liberal Arts, Tuscaloosa Academy and Monroe Academy.
Edgewood actually started the season 2-2, but won 42 of its last 43 games and avenged earlier defeats to Pike and Tuscaloosa.
“We just had to get it going,” Cosby said. “The first week was kind of rough for us, but we had a couple of good practices and started bonding together. We started having a good year.”
The season ended even better for the Wildcats.
They made history.
“You always want to do something special,” Cosby said. “This team is special. I’m proud to be a part of it.”