Madison courtesy runner Jake Bell (above, 14) leads off from third base as Carroll County pitcher John Michael Adams throws plateward during Friday’s MCIT matchup at Madison. The Cubs won that game 9-3, then beat Austin 9-7 in the nightcap to reach today’s championship game. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Madison courtesy runner Jake Bell (above, 14) leads off from third base as Carroll County pitcher John Michael Adams throws plateward during Friday’s MCIT matchup at Madison. The Cubs won that game 9-3, then beat Austin 9-7 in the nightcap to reach today’s championship game. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Madison's bats came alive over the final three innings to lift the Cubs to a 9-7 come-from-behind win over Austin in the semifinals of the Madison Courier Invitational Tournament Friday night at O'Neal Field.

The Cubs, who banged out nine hits in a 9-3 win over Carroll County in the opener earlier in the day, collected 15 safeties in the nightcap. Derek Anderson and Tanner Sauley combined for nine of the hits as the Cubs scored eight runs in the final three innings to clinch a berth in today's championship game.

"It's amazing what the beginning of the week saw and what the end of the week saw," said Madison coach Shannon Barger, referring to the Cubs' two lackluster losses on Monday and Tuesday. "We had some talks this week and at some point, baseball has to be fun. It can't be so much pressure. You have to have fun and enjoy it. It's much more fun when you win, but this was an awesome game."

Madison (5-6) took an early 1-0 lead on Austin but eventually found itself down 4-1 after three innings. The Cubs scored two runs in the fifth on RBIs by Anderson and John McCarty to pull within one, but the Eagles came right back.

Austin (10-3), the defending MCIT champion, scored three times in the bottom of the fifth inning to take what seemed like a commanding 7-3 lead. Madison committed two errors in the inning and had two other fielding miscues to aid in the Eagles' effort.

On Monday, the Cubs fell apart after a similar inning against Switzerland County. On Friday, Madison simply went back to work.

The Cubs pounded Austin ace Hunter Spencer - pitching in relief - to the tune of five hits in the top of the sixth. The Eagles also helped Madison with three errors in the crucial inning as Madison scored four times to tie the game 7-7.

After reliever Clark Vaughn set the Eagles down in order in the bottom of the sixth, Madison got a gift two-out error in the top of the seventh to keep its winning rally alive. Sauley landed a double down the right-field line and Anderson followed with an RBI single to put the Cubs ahead 9-7.

Vaughn then set the Eagles down in order in the seventh to clinch the win.

"It just takes the one guy to battle and the next guy to battle to come back," Barger said. "When it gets to 7-3, you've got to win your individual battle and we had guys do that."

Anderson was a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate with a double and four RBIs while Sauley went 4-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and three runs scored. Vaughn, McCarty, Xavier Barnes, Tucker Callis, Ethan Leach and Alex Risk also had hits for the Cubs.

Sophomore Carson Compton started and went the first four and two-thirds innings. He allowed seven runs - four earned - on nine hits with four strikeouts, three walks and a hit batter.

Vaughn went the final two and a third innings and picked up the win after allowing no runs and no hits with a strikeout and two walks.

"Carson (Compton) hung in there and hung in there and gave us a chance to come back and win," Barger said. "And when Clark throws strikes he can be very good."

Dakota Stashke, the third Austin pitcher, suffered the loss after giving up two unearned runs on two hits in an inning and two-thirds of relief. He struck out two and walked two.

The Eagles had nine hits of their own with Tanner Craig leading the way with a double and two singles and two RBIs. Trent McClellan was 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI.

Madison didn't need the late-game heroics to beat Carroll County, scoring in every inning and pulling away for the 9-3 win.

The Panthers (12-7) touched Madison starter Ethan Leach for two runs in the top of the first on a Seth Hicks double and added a run in the third when Hicks drove in John Michael Adams.

Leach walked three batters in the first but settled down after that, walking just four over the next six innings. He also struck out nine and allowed only three hits in a complete-game effort.

While Leach was keeping Carroll County at bay, Madison's offense was churning out runs. Barnes singled and later scored on a wild pitch and another wild pitch and a Sauley RBI hit led to two more runs in the second.

After McCarty drove in a run in the third to break the 3-3 tie, the Cubs began pulling away. Vaughn blasted a deep home run to right-center to score two runs in the fourth and Max DeVito plated a run with a single in the fifth.

Vaughn tripled, Anderson walked and both scored on Leach's double in the sixth to cap the scoring.

Leach had two hits total and Sauley was 2-for-4 with an RBI to push his two-game total to 6-for-9.

Adams took the loss after allowing six runs - two earned - on five hits in four innings with four strikeouts and three walks. Justin Ray gave up three runs on five hits in two innings of relief with three strikeouts and three walks.

Hicks had two of Carroll County's three hits and drove in all three runs. Jacob Wise had the other Panther hit.

"These were two pretty good teams that we beat today," Barger said. "I know Carroll came in flying high after the week they had and I hope they win their state in a couple of weeks. This is a good tournament and we're going to play three quality opponents."

Madison faces Class A No. 7 South Central in the championship game today at 1 p.m. In the consolation games that start at 11 a.m., Austin plays Southwestern at Madison and Shawe faces Carroll County.

Madison will be seeking its first MCIT crown since 2009 and just its third in the past 10 years. Barger said that the Cubs take a lot of pride in winning the tournament.

"It's not very fun to see somebody else come in here and win it. We saw that last year with Austin," Barger said. "Hopefully, this will be just one of the championships we win on our own field because we host everything this year and for us to bring that trophy back to Madison will be special. But I just want to see the kids continue to get better."