Branson’s baseball team (third seed) clinched the NCS Division V title with a 3-1 victory over the Berean Christian Eagles (first seed) on Friday, May 27. After rolling into the finals after three decisive wins, the Bulls faced a tough defensive battle that came down to the last out.
The Bulls had opportunities on offense early. In the second inning, the Bulls loaded the bases with no outs on the basis of two walks and a single by Jaiden Arcuri, but couldn’t convert.
Brayden Mathews took the mound for the Bulls and with remarkable efficiency and a strong Bulls defense kept the Eagles scoreless until the 5th inning. In the 5th, an Eagles double drove home a run. A diving catch by shortstop Cooper Tenney ended the inning and ended the Eagles’ scoring for the day. Tenney’s remarkable grab earned “Play of the Week” honors from Cal-Hi Sports.
The Bulls offense jumped into action in the top of the 6th inning. The Eagles gave up three walks in a row, loading the bases for the Bulls. A sacrifice fly to center field by Mo Jacoby brought in a run. In a clutch piece of hitting, Tenney tripled on a line drive to center field, scoring two runs and giving the Bulls a 3 - 1 lead.
The Eagles - who won their semi-final game with a walk-off hit in the bottom of the 7th inning - threatened a repeat. With runners on first and second and the go-ahead run at the plate in the bottom of the 7th, Will Ashley took over the mound. Ashley struck out two batters in a row. The final out of the game came on a ground ball that was easily dispatched by the Bulls.
Mathews pitched six innings, striking out six while giving up only five hits and one run. Ashley earned the save.
The Bulls celebrate their first NCS baseball championship since 2018.