Austin’s Josh Helton slides under the tag of Madison shortstop Ethan Leach on a close play (above) during the sixth inning of Saturday’s MCIT championship. Although Leach appeared to tag Helton, Helton was awarded the stolen base and later scored a crucial run in the Eagles’ 5-3 win. Austin (below) won its fourth MCIT title, second most behind Madison’s 24 crowns. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
Austin’s Josh Helton slides under the tag of Madison shortstop Ethan Leach on a close play (above) during the sixth inning of Saturday’s MCIT championship. Although Leach appeared to tag Helton, Helton was awarded the stolen base and later scored a crucial run in the Eagles’ 5-3 win. Austin (below) won its fourth MCIT title, second most behind Madison’s 24 crowns. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
Jeff Barrett knows he doesn't have the kind of team that can afford to swing for the fences. So whenever the Austin boss has a chance, he happily turns to the "small ball."

Barrett called five squeeze bunts in a row to produce two runs during the seventh inning and lift the Eagles to a 5-3 win over host Madison in the 36th Madison Courier Invitational Saturday at Gary O'Neal Field.

It was the kind of baseball that Barrett relishes and it worked to perfection in the seventh.

"Swing and misses aren't productive and even when the other team knows it's coming, if executed properly there is no defense for it," Barrett said of the bunt. "We've had success with it over the years and in fact, we'll probably go back home and practice bunting today."

It marked the fourth time that Austin has won the MCIT, second most to Madison's 24. It also extended the Cubs' title drought to four years, the longest Madison has gone in the tournament's history.

"I have been very fortunate, either as a player or a coach, to be a part of all four Austin wins in this tournament," said Barrett, whose team has won three of the last five contested tournaments. "It's special every time it happens."

The Eagles (6-6) went through all three Jefferson County schools to win this year's MCIT crown. And Austin used the same formula, solid pitching and plate execution, to win all three.

But Madison also didn't help itself with two crucial late-game errors and seven walks or hit batters. Overall, the Cubs didn't play poorly but they also didn't make enough plays to win.

"I don't know if we should have won it, but the way we lost it certainly doesn't feel very good," Madison coach Shannon Barger said. "(Austin) is a quality program, Hunter (Spencer's) been pitching for three years, he knows what he's doing. Jeff runs a great program. But I think it exposed to our kids what we have to do. (What Austin did) is how I like to play. Squeeze, run, bunt. But when we can't get bunts down, we can't play that way.

"When you leave it to chance, you're not going to be very successful and we left it to chance," Barger added. "And we weren't very successful."

Aaron McIntosh, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, no-hit Southwestern in Friday's opener and Hunter Spencer nearly equaled the feat against Madison on Saturday.

Spencer sat down the first 10 batters he faced and allowed only four hits total while striking out 11 in the championship. The junior southpaw did not walk a batter and only one run scored against him was earned.

"We've got a chance to win every time Hunter takes the mound. The same with Aaron McIntosh," Barrett said. "We're a pretty deep staff. We have about eight guys that get regular work. At the same time, these guys work hard and we know we're pitching-driven, defensive-driven and then offensive efficiency. That's the order of importance."

Madison starter Derek Anderson nearly matched Spencer, but ran into trouble of his own doing at times and suffered from inopportune errors by the Cub defense.

Austin scored its first run in the second after Anderson quickly got the first two outs. The sophomore hit batters Dakota Stashke and Trent McClellan back-to-back and then walked Josh Helton to load the bases.

McIntosh got the first run in when he alertly dropped down a bunt with the Madison infield back and easily beat out the infield single to score Stashke.

The Cubs (4-9) got the run back in the fourth. Logan Kleopfer bombed a double to center, his fourth double of the three-game tournament, to break up Spencer's perfect game. He then scored when Clark Vaughn dropped a single into right field.

Austin went ahead 2-1 in the fourth when Stashke drew a leadoff walk, Helton was hit by a pitch and McIntosh again laid down a perfect bunt to load the bases. Spencer's sacrifice fly to center scored Stashke.

The score remained 2-1 until the sixth when both teams took turns scoring unearned runs.

Austin got the first gift in the top of the sixth on two separate plays. The first came after Helton reached on a two-out single and was then awarded second base on a steal despite appearing to get tagged out by Madison shortstop Ethan Leach.

The play came back to haunt the Cubs when left-fielder Brandon Mann tripped while attempting to catch McIntosh's fly ball and the error allowed Helton to easily score.

Madison got even in the sixth. Xavier Barnes and Logan Kleopfer led off with back-to-back singles and Barnes scored when Austin shortstop Dalton McIntosh overthrew first on Vaughn's slow roller. Trey Thurston then plated the tying run with a groundout to first.

But the Eagles didn't let the rally rattle them. Spencer and Michael Buchanan opened the seventh with singles to chase Anderson. It was at that point that Austin went to the small ball and things unraveled for the Cubs.

Barrett called for a squeeze play but James Stacey's bunt popped up into the air. Vaughn, the first baseman, was in position to make the catch for a sure double-play, but the ball popped out of his glove. Instead of one on and two outs, the bases were loaded with nobody out.

Leach, who had relieved Anderson, struck out the next batter but Kameron Mace laid down a squeeze bunt to score the go-ahead run. The next batter, Stashke, did the same, although Vaughn erased the runner at home with a strong throw.

But Austin got the fifth run anyway when the next batter, McClellan, drew a bases-loaded walk to put the Eagles ahead 5-3.

"Senior Dalton McIntosh said to punch them back," Aaron McIntosh said. "And we did."

Unable to mount a second rally in as many innings, Madison went down in order in the bottom of the seventh to end the game.

Aaron McIntosh went 2-for-4 with an RBI in Saturday's championship game and finished the three-game tournament 5-for-11 with a double, two stolen bases, two RBIs and three runs scored. Combined with his pitching performance against Southwestern on Friday, seven no-hit innings with 13 strikeouts and four walks, it was enough to earn MVP honors.

"I think we did good as a team. We went out there and played good," McIntosh said. "Everyone played good."

Anderson suffered the loss after allowing four runs - two earned - on six hits in six-plus innings. He struck out six, walked three and hit three batters.

"Derek struggled with his control most of the game but he still had us right there," Barger said. "A couple of plays it could have been different. But what we do earlier in the game affects how we have to play in the end. And that's where not coming out as aggressive as we should have hurt us."

Kleopfer finished the game 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored to cap a terrific tournament. The senior catcher was 6-for-10 with four doubles in the three games and also scored five runs and had two RBIs.

Buchanan was 2-for-3 with a stolen base for Austin.

Madison visits Charlestown Tuesday.

Other Games

South Central scored seven runs in the fourth inning to pull away for an 8-1 win in the consolation semifinal at Madison's Gary O'Neal Field.

South Central jumped ahead 1-0 in the second when Jack Turner was hit by a pitch and later scored on a passed ball.

Southwestern (3-6) answered with a run in the top of the third to tie the score when Gage Hartman singled in Matt Schwartz.

The big blow was the seven-run fourth inning when South Central rapped out five hits in the frame to pull away.

Darius Whitson-Spegal took the loss for Southwestern and had the Rebels' only other hit, a sixth-inning single. Nathan Shaffer struck out 10 to earn the win for South Central while Nick Veith and Austin Knear had two hits each.

Southwestern travels to Switzerland County today.

In games at Shawe Memorial High School, the host Hilltoppers defeated Carroll County 3-2 in the consolation semifinals but lost to South Central 13-3 in the third-place game.

Shawe was forced to go through seven pitchers in the two games, taxing an already fatigued pitching staff.

"I'm proud of the guys. They fought through some adversity," Shawe coach Matt Forner said. "We lost (pitcher) David Grote after the first inning against Carroll County but we battled back and got the win."

Carroll County hosts Villa Madonna today while Shawe hosts South Ripley.
Year -Champion -MVP(s)

1978 -Madison -Dennis Kring, Madison

1979 -Madison -Jeff Liter, Madison

1980 -Madison -Rob Jones/Kerry Sauley, Madison

1981 -Austin -Tony Marcum, Austin

1982 -Madison -Mark Curl/Troy Anderson, Madison

1983 -Madison -Lance Jones/Donnie Poling, Madison

1984 -Madison -Don Vaughn, Madison

1985 -Madison -Greg Gosman, Madison

1986 -Madison -John Roeder, Madison

1987 -Madison -Brendon O'Shea, Madison

1988 -Madison -Todd O'Neal, Madison

1989 -Madison -Seniors, Madison

1990 -Madison -Chad Imel, Madison

1991 -Madison -Jason Maddox, Madison

1992 -Madison -Eddie Kidwell/Tim Bickers, Madison

1993 -Madison -Mike Eder/Tim Ayler, Madison

1994 -Madison -Shane Cahall, Madison

1995 -Switzerland Co. -Kent Works, Switzerland Co.

1996 -Scottsburg -Mike Gricius, Scottsburg

1997 -Scottsburg -Mike Smith, Scottsburg

1998 -Madison -Chris Bass, Madison

1999 -Madison -Chad Liter, Madison

2000 -Madison -Keith Black/Dustin Getz, Madison

2001 -Carroll Co. -Brandon Kindoll, Carroll Co.

2002 -Madison -Chance Barnes, Madison

2003 -Madison -Derek Fisse/Josh Burris, Madison

2004 -Madison -Brian Busching, Madison

2005 -Rained Out

2006 -Madison -Joel Burnette/Cody Roeder, Madison

2007 -Austin -Clayton George, Austin

2008 -Austin -Matt Bayes, Austin

2009 -Madison -Jordan Leach, Madison

2010 -Rained Out

2011 -Rained Out

2012 -Carroll Co. -Zakk Hicks, Carroll Co.

2013 -Austin -Aaron McIntosh, Austin