Regardless of whether a coin flip is a valid method in the process of crowning an eventual state champion, the Mineral Wells Rams knew they would have their work cut out for them against a team with upset on their minds.
Things started out rocky, as the upstart Lions jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead, thanks primarily to their big second inning during which all four runs were plated with two outs.
It was at that point that senior Chris Rapp took over on the mound for sophomore Braxton Allen, pitching a memorable gem as only he could.
In his last game in a Rams uniform, Rapp mowed through opposing batters and worked his way out of countless jams to toss 4-1/3 innings of scoreless baseball to keep his team in the game right to the end.
"I know for a fact I gave it my all," Rapp said. "I felt like we should have won, no matter what. We gave it our all and there's nothing to be upset about."
Rapp's day was epitomized by a play he made at home in the sixth inning. With the bases loaded, a pitch squirted past Allen at home plate and Vernon's runner at third base took off toward home. But in a heads-up play Allen flipped the ball back to Rapp, who sprinted toward the plate and dove in front of the runner, contorting his back, and getting the out to keep the Rams within striking distance at 5-3 going into the game's final frame.
The collision at home left the senior in pain, but he elected to finish the game in what was close to an instant-classic victory.
"I'm pretty sure I put some ribs out of place," Rapp said with a characteristic wry smile when discussing his play in the sixth. "I've got a huge knot going all the way up my back. My shoulder's killing me. But I couldn't feel better. I wouldn't give up on my brothers."