You could almost feel the dugout rocking, swaying back-and-forth to a beat all it’s own.
That’s how it looked and how it felt for the Mildred Eagles, who didn’t just come alive in the sixth inning Thursday night.
They took flight.
And by the time they came back to the ground, the Eagles had landed right smack in the middle of the state tournament.
“We were on fire in the sixth inning,’’ shouted Mildred shortstop Wesley Huitt. “They couldn’t touch us!’’
Mildred sent 10 to the plate and scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth to put the final touches on a 10-4 win against the Corsicana Bulldogs in the 14-and-under championship game to win the district title and advance to the state tournament.
“We started getting hyped up in the dugout,’’ Huitt said. “And we just got louder and louder.’’
Mildred had swept its way through the tournament and could have won the title Wednesday, but Corsicana, which lost its opening game, bounced back — all the way back from the loser’s bracket and beat the Eagles, 12-8, to force a winner-take-all title game on Thursday.
The two teams had played in the same league and had split two games there, and then split two more in the tournament.
It was the ultimate rubber game.
It played like it, too.
Corsicana led 1-0, and then Mildred took a 3-1 lead. Corsicana came back with a run in the third and another in the fourth to knot it again at 3-3. Mildred scored a run in the bottom of the fourth to go up 4-3, only to watch Corsicana come right back in the top of the fifth to tie it at 4-4.
“It was a back-and-forth game,’’ Corsicana coach Mike Russell said. “It was 4-4 and then we just ran out of arms.’’
Chris Avilles, who went the first four innings, pitched well for the Bulldogs, but Russell needed three more pitchers to finish the game, and the Mildred bats came alive as the Eagles scored two in the bottom of the fifth and added the four-spot in the sixth.
Landon Pritchett had an RBI double and Noah Solis had an RBI single in the fifth, and then the Eagles put together four hits in a row by Huitt, Dawson Woods, Zack Mahoney and Stacy Bailey to ignite the four-run sixth.
“I’m extremely proud of the entire team ,’’ Russell said. “We battled hard. We came back. We lost the first game and won four in a row. We just ran out of pitchers. But our hats are off to Mildred. That’s a real good team.’’
Corsicana was led at the plate by Trevor Denbow, who went 4-for-4 with a double, Avery Cantu, who had an RBI double and also scored a run, and Avilles, who went 2-for-4.
But the day belonged to Mildred and Woods, who went the distance and was rarely in trouble. He gave up just one earned run while striking out nine and walking just three.
“I’ve had him for a long time,’’ said Mildred coach Bob Pritchett, “and that’s probably the best game he has ever pitched. He was outstanding. I just gave him the ball and let him throw his game.’’
It wasn’t an accident.
“We have a lot of arms,’’ Pritchett said. “We have eight guys who can pitch. He really threw the ball well. He threw a lot of first-pitch strikes and he threw his curveball real well. We talked about that before the game, about throwing them more curves than fastballs.’’
“I just felt real good about my curveball,’’ Woods said. “I just kept throwing it and going to it. My curveball was just working.’’
Then Woods, who was one of Mildred’s big bats, said: “And then our bats just came alive.’’
“It felt pretty darn good to beat them,’’ said Mahoney, who admitted he had a hard time sleeping Wednesday night after losing to Corsicana.
“It bothered me all night,’’ he said.
Huitt said he thought about the loss, too.
“I was thinking about it and just trying to get focused on beating them (on Thursday).’’
The two teams know each other well, and many of the players play on Corsicana’s select team — the Corsicana Tigers.
“We know them real well, and have a lot of respect for that team,’’ Pritchett said. “We take our hats off to them.’’
The Eagles were led by the top three hitters in the lineup, who combined to go 6-for-11.
Huitt, the team’s leadoff hitter, went 2-for-3 with a triple and a single, scored twice and drove in a run. Woods went 2-for-4, scored twice and drove in a run, and Mahoney went 2-for-4 with a double and a single, scored twice and drove in three runs.
“It feels great to win, awesome,’’ Woods said. “We always get second place. It feels so good to get first place.’’