WACO -- Catcher Max Reynolds took some satisfaction in realizing an important fact: He and five other Cleburne graduates will be playing baseball as alumni in the state tournament next weekend.
Cleburne held on for a 2-1 victory in the deciding Game 3 of the Class 4A Region I final with Waco Midway on Saturday to earn a berth in the state tournament.
The Yellow Jackets (29-10) will play either Lake Travis, Montgomery or the winner of the Wakeland-Rockwall Heath series at Dell Diamond on Friday in one of two state semifinals.
"It's the culmination of a lot of dreams, really," Reynolds said. "We've thought about this day since we were sophomores, and we just weren't going to let it get away."
The Jackets tried to, though, with some uncharacteristic defense in Game 2 on Saturday, a 7-2 Midway victory that forced the deciding final game of the best-of-three series later in the afternoon.
In the region title game, Cash Calahan -- used mostly in relief roles and spot appearances -- pitched six scoreless innings for Cleburne before giving way to Game 1 winner German Hernandez.
Calahan was spot-on, working the corners with an array of breaking pitches and inside fastballs that kept Midway off-balance.
"We had a strategy to go inside out on them and we stayed with that," Calahan said. "We had six games of scouting to work off, and in the back of my mind I was worried about our defense today when things didn't seem to go so well early."
Reynolds plated what turned out to be the game-winning run with a hit to center that scored Tucker Nolen in the fourth inning.
Cleburne scored another in the first to jump out quickly after two Midway errors. That allowed Calahan to settle in.
"We just didn't play our kind of baseball in Game 2 and I let them know it," Cleburne coach Ross Taylor said. "We were playing like we had to do more rather than just playing the kind of baseball they know how to play."
In Saturday's first game, Cleburne's poor base running left too many potential runs stranded, and two errors by the Yellow Jackets in the fifth inning led to a three-run inning for Midway.
Kramer Robertson and Hunter Jarmon each scored twice for Midway, which finished 29-11.
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