ROUND ROCK, Texas—There weren't any of the other 2A state tournament teams that had to undergo the postseason adversity Linden-Kildare faced.
The Tigers took the field seven times in the playoffs facing elimination. Six of those they walked off the field victorious.
The last one, it took the defending state champions with nine seniors and eight returning starters to thwart Linden-Kildare from making it 7 for 7—which would've been a state title for the Tigers.
L-K lost to Dallardsville Big Sandy in the 2A final Thursday at Dell Diamond. One of those teams was expected to be there a year ago; the other no one saw coming.
Linden-Kildare's run at the 17-2A championship was plausible, as well as the their being a playoff team. Head coach John Roberts has helped lead the Tigers to the postseason five out of five years.
Even with the senior and junior leadership, a few rounds deep in the playoffs was likely.
There weren't many talking state tournament about Linden-Kildare, until the team continually battled back from elimination. Time and time, again.
Twice against Rivercrest in the regional quarterfinals, the Tigers were down to one loss but rose up and won Games 2 and 3.
State-ranked Woden was likely to be the end of the road, especially after winning the opener. Linden-Kildare evened the series and put Woden away, 8-2, in Game 3.
Against James Bowie, it took seventh-inning heroics to force extra innings and an eventual regional final opening win by the Tigers in 12 innings.
James Bowie rallied in the seventh of Game 2 to force another playoff elimination game, this one for the Region III-2A title and state tournament berth.
Linden-Kildare was up to the task.
Making its fourth state tournament appearance and first since 1985, Linden-Kildare was the underdog against Valley Mills in the first semifinal. Jacob Owen and the Tigers threw a shutout, playing flawless defense and taking advantage of defensive errors to win 5-0.
Matched up against last year's state champ Dallardsville Big Sandy on the final day of 2A baseball this year, the Wildcats proved to be a bit too much.
Big Sandy was expected to win. Linden-Kildare wasn't even supposed to be there.
The Tigers were, though. Their playoff run was improbable, but the Tigers earned their spot in the final.
Linden-Kildare had the toughest road to reach the final, and it never let up on its incredible journey.