SHAWNEE — Karen Jones wiped tears from her eyes as the Class A state baseball tournament resumed Saturday afternoon.
Nearly nine hours later, Jones was again emotional as she watched her son's teammates, classmates and friends celebrate an improbable state title after a 5-3, eight-inning win over Roff at Ed Skelton Field.
Brandon Jones was a huge part of Rattan's team through his senior season. But a month-long layoff after Wright City challenged the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association's forfeiture ruling ran out the clock on Jones' high school career.
Last Sunday, Jones reported to basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. Saturday afternoon, he officially began training, though his parents were able to get a quick phone call in to him to let him know about the Rams' 12-1 semifinal win over Cashion.
Rattan's players held Brandon's No. 23 jersey during pregame introductions, first-game starter Cade Clay wrote Brandon's number on the mound before the semifinal started and after the title was won, Karen was presented with her son's state championship medal.
Before the trophy was handed out, players lined up to hug the Jones family.
“It shows that his teammates care,” Andy Jones, Brandon's father, said. “That's just the way Rattan kids are. They're real caring kids.”
For much of the game, it didn't look like Rattan would get to finish the storybook ending.
Rattan trailed 3-1 going into the top of the seventh and had managed just three hits off of Roff starter Mike Anderson.
But the Rams scratched across a pair to stay alive after a leadoff walk started some momentum going Rattan's way.
Then in the eighth, things fell apart for Roff and everything went Rattan's way. The Tigers committed three errors to give Rattan two unearned runs after Tanner McAdams led off the inning with a single. Both runs came with two outs.
“It's bittersweet,” Adams said of the win. “We sure wish he could've been here. We did this for him and us.”
A year after coming behind to win three games in the state tournament, Rattan had another.
“These kids just keep fighting,” Rams coach Ryan Cordell said. “They give us good at-bats. That's just how they are. They're tough kids. I can't take any credit for that.”
Brandon Jones isn't likely to be able to make or receive a call for several weeks, so he'll likely learn of Rattan's state championship win by letter.
“It doesn't replace him being here,” Cordell said. “I just wish he could've been here to be a part of it. But for us to go out and use him as inspiration is something these kids will remember for a long time.”