After the Malakoff Tigers swept Whitney for the bi-district championship, they took on the Franklin Lions in the area round this past weekend.

The Tigers (24-10) rallied in the sixth inning for the 7-5 Game 1 victory in Cleburne, but saw their season end in Madisonville as the Lions held on for the 4-3 win in Game 2 and the 6-4 victory in Game 3 to clinch the area title.

GAME 1

Franklin opened the game with the 1-0 lead as Avery Archibald went to third base on an error by Darion Peace and scored on the same play.

Malakoff jumped ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the second when Riggin Smith’s two-run RBI single scored Cully McCoy and Wes Hustead.

The Lions responded with Colton Ortner’s RBI single that scored Kobe Lebreche, Brett Sebastian coming home when Archibald grounded into a fielder’s choice and Ortner crossed home plate on a sac fly from Jake Atomanczyk as Franklin led 4-2 in the top of the fourth.

In the bottom of the fifth, Cole Gaddis scored when McCoy hit a sac fly and Hustead brought home Erik Waldo with an RBI single and the Tigers tied it at 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth.

Malakoff took the lead for good at 7-4 in the bottom of the sixth as Jake Little, Brandon Nations and Gaddis scored on errors.

Franklin added one more run in the top of the seventh when Lebreche scored on a passed ball.

McCoy picked up the win for Malakoff as he pitched the last 1.1 innings of relief with one run on three hits plus three strikeouts and a walk.

Smith started and went four innings with four runs on five hits along with four strikeouts and three walks. Waldo relieved Smith with 1.2 shutout innings.

GAME 2

To start the game, Waldo grounded into a double play and scored Peace and  Nations scored on a passed ball as the Tigers led 2-0.

In the bottom of the first, Luke Ely singled and Ortner scored on a throw and Ely scored on a throw following a single by Kohlten Parlari as the Lions tied it at 2-2.

Franklin jumped ahead for good, 3-2, in the bottom of the third as Ely crossed home on a throw during another single by Parlari.

The Lions built the lead to 4-2 when Atomanczyk's RBI single scored Archibald.

Malakoff scored their last run in the top of the sixth inning as Gaddis scored on Nathan Jones' RBI single and the final score was 4-3 as Franklin evened the series for a decisive Game 3.

Nations took the loss as he went six innings, allowing four runs on nine hits plus three strikeouts and two walks.

GAME 3

Franklin opened with three runs for the 3-0 lead as Ortner came home on Atomanczk's sac bunt,  Archibald stole home plate and James Little's RBI single scored Parlari.

Malakoff jumped on the board, 3-1, as Gaddis homered to right field in the bottom of the third.

The Lions made it 4-1 in the top of the fifth with Sebastian's RBI triple that scored Little.

Franklin took their largest lead at 6-1 when Archibald scored on Atomancyzk's single and Ely came home on Little grounding into a fielder's choice.

The lead was cut to 6-3 as Waldo tagged up and scored on a fly out from McCoy and Jones crossed home plate on a wild pitch.

Nations homered to left field in the bottom of the seventh with one out, but that would be it as Gaddis and Waldo struck out for the last two outs and the Lions took the area championship with the 6-4 victory.

Dylan Stearman started 2.1 innings and had the loss as he surrendered three runs on three hits and threw one strikeout and a trio of walks.

Waldo and McCoy relieved with 4.2 innings.

The Tigers finish 2019 as undefeated district champions, bi-district champions and area finalists.