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story.lead_photo.caption Kennett's Payton Heinley slides into third base ahead of the tag by Blair Oaks third baseman Josh Isaacs during the first inning of Thursday's Class 4 state championship game at U.S. Baseball Park in Ozark. Photo by Greg Jackson / News Tribune.

OZARK — The Kennett Indians picked up right where they left off.

A day after rallying for nine runs in the seventh inning in the state semifinals, Kennett batted around the order three times Thursday, powering its way past the Blair Oaks Falcons for a 16-5 win in six innings in the Class 4 baseball state championship game at U.S. Baseball Park.

"They pounded us harder than anybody we've faced," Blair Oaks coach Mike DeMilia said. "They're definitely the best team we've played."

It's the first state title in program history for second-ranked Kennett, which finished the season with a 26-8 record.

Third-ranked Blair Oaks, which had won its previous seven games in the baseball Final Four, ends the year with a 28-6 record, the most wins in a single season for the Falcons.

"We're one of the smallest Class 4 schools, so we knew it would be a different ballgame than a couple years ago," said DeMilia, whose Falcons won the Class 3 state title in 2019. "But overall, with the schedule we played, we beat so many good teams, we had so many really good wins."

Kennett opened the top of the first inning with four runs, sending 10 batters to the plate in the inning against Blair Oaks starter Gavin Wekenborg.

The Falcons answered with three runs in the bottom half of the inning, leading the Indians to change pitchers before recording the third out. Lane Libbert scored on an error, Reid Dudenhoeffer singled to score Hayden Salmons and Ian Nolph tripled to right-center field, scoring Dudenhoeffer to cut Kennett's lead to 4-3.

"After it was 4-0, to make it 4-3 after one, we felt good about that," DeMilia said.

Kennett relief pitcher JT Williams kept Blair Oaks off the scoreboard for the next four innings. Meanwhile, the Indians responded with 12 unanswered runs, including five runs in the fifth and five more in the sixth.

Kennett finished the game with 14 hits, eight of which went for extra bases. Reese Robinett capped the scoring for the Indians with a three-run inside-the-park home run in the sixth to make the score 16-3.

"We give up less than four hits a game for the season," DeMilia said.

Robinett, a junior who has committed to play at Arkansas, finished the game 2-for-3 with a game-high five RBI for the Indians.

Blair Oaks got the leadoff batter on base in every inning Thursday, but the Falcons weren't able to score again until the bottom of the sixth.

With Blair Oaks down to its final out, Hayden Salmons sliced a double just out of the left fielder's reach, scoring Josh Isaacs and Wekenborg to make the score 16-5.

The Falcons needed two more runs to extend the game into the seventh, but Kennett's Bodey Ellis struck out the next batter to end the game by run-rule.

"Everybody is going to talk about their hitting, but their defense was really good, and they made big pitches when they had to," DeMilia said.

Wekenborg pitched the first 1 2/3 innings for Blair Oaks, while Cale Willson threw 2 2/3 inning of relief, striking out five. Josh Isaacs pitched one inning after that and then Chase Schnieders made his varsity debut for the Falcons, retiring two of the three batters he faced to end the top of the sixth.

Lane Libbert, one of seven Blair Oaks seniors, wrapped up his high school career by going 3-for-4 with three singles. Salmons, Nolph, Dudenhoeffer, Wekenborg and Wil Libbert each had a hit in the Falcons' eight-hit effort.

Isaacs, Cade Stockman, Wekenborg, Salmons, Lane Libbert, Nolph and Levi Haney finish their careers with two Final Four appearances in three seasons at Blair Oaks.

"The things they've accomplished in three years is amazing," DeMilia said. "Their freshman year, we went 14-18, and we had quite a few of those guys playing.

"They won state their sophomore year, and we felt we would have been in a great position to make a run last year, but to finish it up here, in this game, is a terrific accomplishment."

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