The odds didn't look very good for Asher going into Friday's Class B semifinal game against Tupelo.
The Indians started five freshman and a junior against a team that has been a state tournament fixture for the last decade.
But that junior — Zac Fowler — delivered a game-winning infield single one batter after Asher had tied it to come out with a 5-4 win at Palmer Field at Dolese Park.
“On paper, we shouldn't have been able to compete with those guys,” Asher coach Shane Coker said. “But these guys have accepted the challenge and tonight was no different.”
Asher (29-6) will play Red Oak at 2:30 p.m. Saturday for the title.
Asher entered the final inning down a run and looked like they might've missed an opportunity when Tim Johnson laced a likely double down the right-field line with two out and one on. But the runner at first had called time just before the pitch, negating the hit.
Johnson struck out to put Tupelo one out away from the win with the bottom third of Asher's order coming up.
Freshman Corey Holman kept the inning going with a single before back-to-back walks tied the game and turned over the lineup to get Fowler to the plate.
Fowler took two strong cuts before hitting a sharp grounder to the right of Tupelo shortstop Matt Benedict, who knocked down the ball but couldn't get it to third in time for the third out as Holman raced across the plate.
The game was the fourth meeting of the year between the teams. Tupelo had won all three of their previous games.
“These five freshman and this team have brought our town, community and school together,” Coker said. “Win or lose tomorrow, I'm so proud of what they've been able to do.”
Red Oak 9, Arnett 8
Down six runs almost immediately, Red Oak sophomore Bryce Deatherage wasn't afraid to admit he was apprehensive about the Eagles' chances.
But Red Oak chipped away, finally took a lead, had Arnett tie it back up before Deatherage was forced home in the seventh to give the Eagles the win.
“It was pretty scary there early,” Deatherage said. “But all the guys were talking to each other and saying that we had a lot of baseball left to play.”
Deatherage had a lot to do with the Eagles' comeback.
After Red Oak starter Devin Derryberry struggled out of the box, Deatherage came on in the second inning and kept the Wildcats in check.
He also ignited the offense.
In the fourth inning, Red Oak (26-8) loaded the bases with no outs before a fielder's choice and a fly ball on the infield gave Arnett a chance to escape up 7-2.
But Deatherage delivered a two-run double, then a game-tying two-run double an inning later.
“That was a great moment,” Deatherage said of the second double.
Red Oak took the lead two batters later on a bases-loaded walk.
Arnett tied it in the seventh on Jason Johnson's leadoff home run.
The Wildcats had a chance to regain the lead, putting runners on second and third with no outs in the inning, but Deatherage worked around it and struck out the final two batters in the inning.
In the bottom half, Derryberry worked a bases-loaded walk to score Deatherage and send the Eagles to the title game.
“Words can't describe what these guys mean to me,” Deatherage said of his team. “We've got a lot of great guys on this team who know what it takes for us to win.”