Rider Wins State Championship over Calallen

The No. 7 Rider Raiders took the field for it's first-ever state championship game, and after a 6-2 victory over No. 4 Corpus Christi Calallen, Rider is taking home its first-ever state championship.

"It's going to sink in a little bit better tonight or tomorrow," senior catcher Gage Green said. "It's an awesome feeling. I can't even explain it right now."

The Raider bats teed off on Calallen starter Scott Hill in the top of the first inning. Junior right fielder Blake Brom kicked off the scoring, with a two-run double to left-center field, scoring Green and Cameron Allen. Sophomore left fielder Mason Stone followed right up with a two-run double to center field, scoring Christien Sager and Brom.

In what seemed like a blink of an eye, Rider had a 4-0 lead.

"We just put the bat on the ball and made them make plays," Brom said.

After Rider starter Ben Smith struck out Calallen slugger Wyatt Mathisen to end of the bottom of the first, the Raider offense scored an additional pair of runs in the top of the second.
Smith hit a ball hard to Lee May Gonzalez at short, then he and second baseman Christian Cantu had a miscommunication on the toss to second, allowing Ben Cummings to score to start a two-out rally. Sager kept it going by knocking in Green with an RBI single to left.

"Defense is our best thing. We work so hard at it," Brom said.

Rider's defense came up big the rest of the game. The Raiders allowed a run in the bottom of the fourth to make it 6-2 lead. Then, Allen made a heads-up play fielding a ball Cody Nevilles hit, by firing to senior third baseman Matt Montague to tag an over-aggressive Tate Bammert out. Moments later, senior second baseman Ben Bates made a leaping catch on a laser hit by Greg Hernandez and then threw to first for an inning-ending double play.

Those plays would be outdone in the bottom of the fifth on what may be the Texoma defensive play of the year. The situation - bases loaded, two outs for Bammert at the plate.

He pops it up to shallow left field, where it appears the ball's going to drop, allowing one or two runs to score. But, out of nowhere Allen sprawls out to make a spectacular catch and end the scoring threat.

"I knew that Mason was playing pretty deep and that the wind was blowing in," Allen said.
"I didn't really get a good jump at it once I started running. I knew I'd probably be the only one able to make a play on it. Luckily, I started running and it was there, and I made the catch."

Allen would then come in in relief, pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth. Then, with two outs in the bottom of seventh, Allen induced a grounder back to the mound from Hernandez. Allen dove on the ball, fired to Smith at first for the final out of the game.

"Everything just went flying in the air, dog piling," Green said. "It was the most amazing feeling ever."

Allen earned tournament MVP honors.

"We stuck with the program the whole way," Allen said. "We knew that coming into our senior year that we'd have a chance at it. All the hard work we put in, it's an unbelievable feeling to have it pay off."

Head coach Scot Green pointed to last year's state tournament as a key to why Rider came away with the win today, saying that after his team watched Brenham win the title last year, his team made a commitment to winning it the following year.

His son Gage had strong words about those who doubted Rider's chances.

"We ended up coming and shocking everybody," he said.

Rider finishes the season 39-7 overall.