BROWNSBORO -- Van and Brownsboro had plenty of time to mull over the fact Wednesday's regular season finale also would serve as the de facto District 14-4A championship game. A rain postponement Tuesday added to the suspense.

But the Vandals weren't phased when the lights finally turned on in front of a packed house. They rolled for an 11-3 win at Brownsboro Bear Stadium, broke a tie for first in the standings and clinched the senior class' first league title.

"It feels really good," skipper Jerami Hawkins said. "A lot of the guys here that are seniors are four-year lettermen. They've been in the playoffs every year, but this kind of caps off a good district season for those guys."

Cooper Bledsoe led Van with a 4-for-4 night at the plate in addition to a walk in the Vandals' win at Brownsboro. (Rob Graham,

Sophomore right fielder Cooper Bledsoe led the way with a 4-for-4 night and a walk in five plate appearances. He also scored three runs.

All nine starting Vandals batters reached base. Seven of them recorded at least one hit.

"One through nine, we hit real good," Bledsoe said. "We've had some slumps lately, but I think we really dug out of those tonight. One through nine were fighting and hitting great. We had a great game tonight. Everybody."

Bledsoe started the meeting with a leadoff walk on five pitches. With one out and the bases loaded, he was forced home on a walk.

Brownsboro starting pitcher Jake Conner held from there, but he had to throw 33 total pitches to get back to the dugout. He was retired and moved to right field after throwing 75 pitches through three innings.

The Bears tied the game with a leadoff double from Toby Davis and Cory Dodds' RBI double to the left field wall with one out in the first frame.

Van (15-5-1, 9-3) and Brownsboro (11-7, 8-4) both stranded runners in scoring position in the second inning.

The Vandals recorded three runs in the third inning, starting with Sean Beasley's ground ball to second base to plate Jacoby Boghe. With runners at the corners, Bret Hale came home on a double steal with Beasley taking second base. Beasley then scored on catcher Brett Doring's base hit.

Brownsboro cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom third on London Mason's one-out double through the right gap, but it stranded two runners in scoring position with a strikeout and ground ball to the shortstop.

Van took a 7-2 lead into the middle of the fourth with Cole Newsome's two RBI ground rule double and a fielding error which resulted in two bases.

The Bears scored their final run in the bottom of the fourth, a bases loaded walk which forced in right fielder Cody Renfio. The Vandals added four runs in the seventh for good measure.

"It's a great feeling," Bledsoe said. "We feel like we have at least two district losses we shouldn't have had. To come through today, it means a lot to us."

Starting pitcher Garin Shelton struck out nine Brownsboro batters through five innings of work. (Rob Graham,

Garin Shelton took the win on the mound. He threw nine strikeouts on the way to 109 pitches through five innings.

Garrett Walker held Brownsboro at three runs in relief. Freshman pitcher Casey Morrow was called up to record the final out of the game.

Van will host defending Class 1A state champion Douglass at 7 p.m. Friday in a playoff tuneup game for both teams. Hawkins is optimistic the team can work a second exhibition game in before postseason play begins.

The Vandals will begin their playoff run next week against the loser of a third-place game between Kaufman and Mabank in the adjacent District 13-3A. Brownsboro will take on the winner of the same game.

Times, dates and locations will be worked out once Kaufman and Mabank settle their seeding.

"This game was great all around," Shelton said. "The fans brought a lot of energy. We had been looking forward to this from the beginning of the season and we took the win tonight."

Van's Christian Cole outruns a throwing error in the seventh inning first baseman London Mason had to retrieve on a bounce. It allowed Cole to move on to second base. (Rob Graham,

Van 11, Brownsboro 3

District 14-4A Baseball
At Brownsboro Bear Stadium

Van                      103    300   4    --    11   12    1
Brownsboro         101    100   0    --      3   8    3

Pitchers and catchers
  • Van: Garin Shelton, Garrett Walker (6), Casey Morrow (7) and Brett Doring
  • Brownsboro: Jake Conner, Toby Davis (4) and Toby Davis, Cody Renfio

WP -- Shelton
LP -- Conner

  • Van: Christian Cole, Cole Newsome, Jacob Tobias
  • Brownsboro: Cory Dadds, Toby Davis, London Mason