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Argylls' Cinderella run ends at semistate

Jun. 8—CONVERSE — The final chapter of the book that was the historic 2024 Madison-Grant baseball season was written Saturday as the Argylls fell to two-time defending Class 2A state champion Illiana Christian in the semistate semifinal at Oak Hill.

But as with any story, the 10-0, six-inning defeat was only a part of the overall picture and will not erase the previous accomplishments of this Argylls team or its players.

"Their names are in the history books," M-G coach John Walters said. "Some time in the future — it may be in the near future — they're going to get asked to come back because they are 'that team.' They may not understand it now, but they're young."

First and foremost, the defeat can do nothing to tarnish the legacy the team's three seniors — Lucas Humphries, Max Franklin and Teagan Yeagy — are leaving behind after the trio helped lead the Argylls to their first regional title and semistate berth this season.

Add a 2021 sectional and Nick Muller Madison County Tournament championship for Franklin and Yeagy, and it is quite an accomplished group of seniors the Argylls will miss next year.

"I told them this morning, 'You guys have put your names in history,'" Walters said. "Max and Teagan were part of the '21 team that won sectional, so they're two-time sectional champions, and there's only a couple of those at Madison-Grant."

While Yeagy will continue his baseball career at Anderson University next season, Saturday was the end of the line for Franklin, who will pursue a career as an EMT now that high school has ended.

The two shared a laugh and a smile during the fifth inning when Yeagy came in to relieve Franklin after he threw two solid innings of relief in his own right.

With the Vikings in command at 8-0, the seniors knew their time was almost up.

"They were hitting off me. It was semistate, and we were already down (8-0), I told coach to give me one more (batter) and let Teagan come in as a senior and have his day," Franklin said. "He came out and did what we did, then we went out to positions for fun. We had fun, and that's all that matters."

Franklin took second base after the switch, a position he had not played since middle school.

"Long, long time ago," he laughed.

Yeagy had added motivation as he took the ball.

Barely a year removed from Tommy John surgery and used sparingly on the mound this season, he needed to escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam in order to ensure he had one more opportunity to bat. If Illiana Christian plated two more runs, the game would have ended because of the run rule.

Although a fielder's choice grounder plated one run, Yeagy escaped further trouble on a routine fly ball to center, allowing him one last chance at the plate.

"I just wanted to get in there and do my thing like I have," he said. "I just wanted to get in there and do my job."

There was not a storybook ending, however, as Yeagy was hit by a pitch with two out and was lifted for a courtesy runner.

It was a tough day at the plate for M-G (17-11). After failing to cash in on a bases-loaded, two out opportunity in the first inning, the next 13 Argylls were set down by Illiana starter Spencer Bandstra before junior Xavier Yeagy snapped the string with a seventh-inning leadoff single.

In perhaps something of an illustration as to how the day went for the Argylls, six of those 13 outs — including all three batters in the fifth — hit the ball hard, but usually right at a Vikings' defender. After Xavier Yeagy's seventh-inning hit, Luke Gilman — who had M-G's only other hit — followed with a grounder up the middle that appeared destined for center field, but Viking shortstop Isaac Vander Woude cut off the grounder, stepped on second and threw to first for a double play.

In fact, although Bandstra struck out the side in the first inning, he only fanned one more Argyll the remainder of the game. M-G put the bat on the ball, it just could not find openings in the Illiana defense.

"We were ready for them. We practiced all week on the left hander working on the change up and the curveball," Walters said. "They had us guessing at the plate early, and then, once we got on it, we hit it right at them. That's how baseball goes, but they're a great offense for a reason."

A tough final outing will do nothing to negate what Xavier Yeagy was able to do on the mound this postseason.

He picked up wins over Eastern and Frankton in the sectional and regional championship games, respectively, and entered Saturday with a 0.50 ERA in those two outings, including a complete game against the Comets.

Walters knows the junior — who was lifted after surrendering seven earned runs in 2 1/3 innings — will be a centerpiece for the Argylls next season.

"The kid is a competitor. He has a lot of grit," Walters said. "He wants the ball, and I'll give it to him. We put him in tough situations this season for a reason."

Starters Xavier Yeagy, Gilman, Tripp Haisley, Harry Brooks, Chad Lamb and Levi Nelson will all be back, giving the Argylls further reason for optimism.

The future success of the baseball team may be as much of a legacy for the seniors as what they accomplished themselves.

"They might remember us, but I think coach will bring them back to the same spot," Franklin said. "We've got a good team coming up and a couple good freshmen. They'll do their jobs. If they do their job and play their game, they'll be just fine."

Contact Rob Hunt at rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4886.