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May 19, 2008

Cullman wins state baseball championship

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MONTGOMERY — Cullman High’s baseball team had been in this situation before.

So when Charles Henderson took a two-run lead late in game two of the Class 5A state championship series, the Bearcats didn’t panic.

And it’s a good thing they didn’t.

Jacob Smith hit a solo homer over the left-center-field fence in the bottom of the sixth, shifting the momentum toward the Cullman dugout.

Two innings later, Matt Drake slapped a double into left field to score Matthew Britton from second base, giving Cullman’s baseball program its second straight state championship with a 4-3 walk-off win over Hendrson.

Just moments after the ball left Drake’s bat, Cullman’s fans were on their feet. And when Britton crossed home plate, everyone that had been sitting in the Bearcats’ dugout was already on the field celebrating.

“I have to admit, I was nervous,” said Drake, who also was named MVP of the Class 5A state championship series for the second straight year. “I didn’t even know we had won it. I realized it was over right as I was rounding first.

“That was unbelievable.”

For Cullman’s players, winning the state championship in dramatic fashion was the perfect ending to what the players described as a “wild season.”

“I couldn’t think of a better way to end the season,” Cullman coach Bryan Bowen said. “We’ve had to overcome a lot. I can remember when this team was 10-11 and a lot of people were writing us off. But these guys showed resilience. They kept battling and got us back.”

While Drake’s double in the eighth inning may have won the game, it wasn’t the only clutch hit Cullman had.

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