On paper, the 13-8 Linton Miners were a hands-down high school baseball favorite to handle the 7-17 Eastern Greene Thunderbirds in the Class 2A Linton Sectional championship game. The Miners beat the Thunderbirds just two weeks ago.

And in the first inning, Eastern’s starting pitcher Jake Hash was ejected from the game when he didn’t slide on a close play at home plate. Momentum should have been on Linton’s side. But the game became a slugfest and Eastern outscored Linton 10-6 to win a berth in the Class 2A Regional at Austin on Saturday.

“Tonight you could just see how hungry [the Thunderbirds] were. You could see how fired up they were. We just came out flat and got it handed to us. I warned the kids you can’t go on what you did two weeks against anybody,” Linton coach Bart Berns said.

Eastern’s Sawyer Miller and Linton’s Keith Cunningham led the offensive fireworks. Miller was 4 for 4 at the plate with a home run, double, two singles, four RBIs and three runs scored. Cunningham was 3 for 4 with two home runs, four RBIs and two runs.

Eastern broke the contest open in the fifth inning when Cody Sparks ripped a two-run double and Miller jumped on a slider for a three-run homer with two out.

Linton’s Tyler Scott didn’t have his best night on the mound.

“Ty Scott battled for us, but he just didn’t have it. He didn’t have his stuff tonight. He got us by. When I brought Tyler Trent in, there was a miscommunication on a fastball and slider and that’s the one [Miller] hit out for the last home run,” Burns said.

Eastern led 3-0 after one inning of play, but Linton battled back with two runs in the second, off a Trent double and singles by Luke Knight and Levi Baysinger, and one in the fourth off Cunningham’s third homer of the season.

Cunningham’s fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot, tied the score 5-5. But the Miners didn’t couldn’t contain the Thunderbird bats.

“The better team won tonight,” Berns said.

Linton 020 120 1 — 6 9 1

Eastern Greene 301 150 x — 10 9 2

Scott, Trent (5) and Bridges; J.Hash, Russell (2), Sparks (6) and L.Hash. W — Russell. L — Scott, 5-1. HR — L: Cunningham 2 (4); EG: Miller.

Next — Eastern Greene (8-17) plays Saturday at the Class 2A Austin Regional. Linton finished 13-9.

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