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Rebels fall short of state title

MONTGOMERY – After a dramatic, come-from-behind series win in the AISA A state baseball semifinals last week, the Chambers Academy Rebels traveled to Montgomery on Tuesday to vie for their first baseball state championship since 1999. The Rebels met Eastwood Christian School in the finals, and were unable to complete the magical season with a championship cherry, falling in two games by scores of 2-1 and 6-1.

“I thought we played really well,” Chambers Academy head coach Dillon NesSmith said after the games. “We competed hard in both games. I’m proud of the way the kids fought back in game two, I felt like we should have won the first game, but the cards didn’t fall our way. That’s the way it goes sometimes. But I am extremely proud of the heart these kids showed, not only today but the whole season. It’s been a fun ride.”

After falling in heart-breaking fashion in the opening game, Chambers Academy could not muster much of an offensive effort in the second, accumulating four errors and just two hits against tournament MVP and pitcher Ben Johnson. The Warriors, by contrast, were able to put three runs on Chambers starter Gavin White in the first inning of the second game and never looked back.

The Rebels ended the season with a 19-14 record in NesSmith’s first year at the helm. In his inaugural campaign, Chambers Academy broke a near-20-year drought with a trip to the state finals, a gap spanning more years than any player on the Rebels’ roster currently has under their belts.

“This team competed every day, come to practice and work hard every single day,” NesSmith said. “They had a belief from day one they could do something special. It’s been a lot of fun, I’m proud to call myself their coach.”