In a series where no lead seemed safe, Linden-Kildare put the third and decisive game away early.

The Tigers built a 6-2 lead on Friday and led 8-1 after four innings, bouncing back from an earlier loss to James Bowie to win 9-4, claiming the Region III-2A championship and berth to next week’s state tournament in Round Rock, Texas.

The Pirates rallied from a 5-run deficit in Game 2 Friday at Tiger Field to force the third game, but L-K allowed only a slight rally late in the rubber game.

With both teams watching the 3-game totals for pitch count closely, Tiger starter Trent Wert pitched 4 2-3 innings to earn the win. He allowed five hits and two runs—just one earned—with four strikeouts, two walks and two hit batsmen.

James Bowie, which ends its season at 19-6, loaded the bases in the seventh with one out and scored a pair before a strikeout ended the series.

Mason Johnson gave up five hits and two earned runs in 2 1-3 innings of relief for Linden-Kildare (20-9). He fanned two with no free passes.

Down a run, the Tigers broke open the game in the third.

A pair of walks started the inning and prompted a pitching change, as James Bowie starter Cason Braley was making his third appearance in the three-game series and was out of pitches just 30 pitches in. He had 29 in 2-plus innings and gave up two runs on one hit, walking two and hitting one.

Another walk loaded the bases, and Jacob Owen legged out an infield single to tie the game. Duece Schuler lined an RBI single to right, and Nic Kunze worked a walk to force in another run.

An error plated a run, and two more scored before the Pirates were able to work out the inning.

James Bowie held a 1-0 lead in the second after Dalton McBride singled home Zane DeBerry, who had walked to start the inning. Cason Braley also had a hit in the inning.

Owen smacked a stand-up triple to drive in another Tiger run in the fourth, and he scored on a groundout To make it 8-1. Chase Bynum led off the inning with a single, and Kunze also had a double in the inning.

After singles by Whitt Rogers and DeBerry, an error plated a Pirate run in the fifth.

Bynum singled home a run in the fifth for L-K.

Linden-Kildare had two on with one out in the first inning, but a flyout to deep right-center turned into a twin-killing as center fielder McBride made the diving catch, hit second baseman Slade Burnett, who threw a strike to catcher Garrett Brown to get the runner attempting to score from second after tagging on the catch.