MCIT CHAMPS: Madison won its 25th Madison Courier Invitional Tournament title on Saturday but its first since 2009. Members of the team are (from left): Front — Xavier Barnes, Ethan Leach, Alex Risk, Max DeVito, Daulton Laufer, Tucker Callis and Jake Bell; Back — head coach Shannon Barger, Carson Compton, Derek Anderson, Kyle Sauley, Tanner Sauley, John McCarty, Sam McIlvain, Tyler Manaugh, Clark Vaughn and assistant coach Donnie Vaughn. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
MCIT CHAMPS: Madison won its 25th Madison Courier Invitional Tournament title on Saturday but its first since 2009. Members of the team are (from left): Front — Xavier Barnes, Ethan Leach, Alex Risk, Max DeVito, Daulton Laufer, Tucker Callis and Jake Bell; Back — head coach Shannon Barger, Carson Compton, Derek Anderson, Kyle Sauley, Tanner Sauley, John McCarty, Sam McIlvain, Tyler Manaugh, Clark Vaughn and assistant coach Donnie Vaughn. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Madison reclaimed its throne as Madison Courier Invitational champion with an impressive 12-4 dismantling of Class A No. 7 South Central in the championship game on Saturday.

The Cubs, winners of 25 of the 34 contested MCIT crowns since 1978, had not hoisted the trophy since 2009. That all ended thanks to an 11-hit attack, the pitching of MVP Clark Vaughn and a South Central defense that was porous at best.

"You would never have thought after two ugly losses on Monday and Tuesday that we could have come and won this," Madison coach Shannon Barger said. "It's a credit to our kids. They brought themselves together to do it, we got pretty good pitching through the three games and some timely hitting. Obviously we took advantage of some mistakes today, but that's something that we haven't been doing."

Madison (6-6) beat Carroll County and Austin, a pair of double-digit win teams, in the prelims on Friday but saved its best against a South Central squad that was making its first appearance in the MCIT title game.

The Rebels (9-5) appeared rattled early on and that's all it took for Madison to take control of the game. Xavier Barnes led off the game with a hard-hit single, then stole second.

What happened next may have been the play of the game. Tanner Sauley hit a slow roller to shortstop and Barnes, who was off on contact, found himself caught in no-man's land.

Barnes played pickle with the Rebel infielders briefly then took off for third. South Central third baseman Cody Baelz attempted to tag him as he went by, but Barnes steered wide of the tag and made it safely to the bag.

After that play, the wheels fell off for South Central. The Rebels committed two more errors in the inning and that combined with an Ethan Leach RBI single and a Max DeVito two-run blooper pushed Madison ahead 5-0 before the Rebels ever got to swing the bat.

South Central committed three more errors in the third, leading to five more Madison runs. The only Cub hit in the inning was a two-run double by Vaughn, his third extra-base knock of the tournament.

The 10-run lead was too much for South Central to overcome, especially with the way Vaughn was dealing on the mound. The senior, who has been plagued with control problems this season, was on his game Saturday, limiting the Rebels to just three baserunners over the first three innings before starting to tire in the fourth.

"I knew all that I had to do was throw strikes and that we would make the routine plays," said Vaughn, who pitched two and a third innings in relief the night before against Austin. "If I did that, I knew that we would come out on top."

Madison added two more runs in the fourth to go ahead 12-0. Again it was DeVito with the big hit, driving in both runs with a single to right.

South Central finally broke through against Vaughn in the fourth when Parker Gabhardt walked and eventually scored on Nate Shaffer's groundout.

The Rebels scored three more runs against Vaughn's replacement, Sam McIlvain, in the fifth to avoid the mercy rule but South Central got no closer.

Vaughn's two-way attack was more than enough to net him the Most Valuable Player award. He went 4-for-11 with a double, triple and home run, four RBIs and four runs scored at the plate in the three games. He also allowed only one run on three hits in six and one-third innings on the mound with six strikeouts and four walks. He was credited with two of the Cubs' three wins in the tourney.

Vaughn's father, assistant coach Donnie Vaughn, won the MVP award in 1984 while playing for Madison. The younger Vaughn had no idea that his father had been honored until the trophy was in his hands.

"After I got it, he said that he had won that thing 30 years ago," Vaughn said. "So that's kind of a cool passing of the throne."

"I thought last night Clark was back to the Clark of old. He was blowing gas, he had a good curveball," Barger said. "Today he was tired, as we all are. Three games in two days takes a lot out of you, especially coming off the win last night. I thought it was very important for us to get out on top early."

Barnes, Leach, DeVito and Alex Risk each had two hits for Madison while John McCarty and Tucker Callis had a hit each.

Sophomore Carson Compton pitched the final two and two-third innings of the game after coming on in relief of McIlvain. The southpaw allowed just one hit while striking out four in the scoreless stint on the mound.

"Even though he's just a sophomore, I think Carson has come in and kind of showed us the way," Barger said. "If you throw strikes, this is a hard game and they'll eventually get themselves out. And that's what they've done."

South Central managed only five hits against the trio of Cub pitchers. Gabhardt went 2-for-3 with two RBIs while Corey Ray, Jack Turner and Nick Veith had one hit each.

Ray started and was the first of five Rebel hurlers who eventually took the mound. Ray lasted only one inning and took the loss after allowing five unearned runs on three hits with a strikeout.

Madison returned to the .500 mark on the season and after wins over three opponents with a combined 31 wins, the Cubs feel like they may have turned the corner.

"It was a complete paradigm shift. We were kind of on the precipice there," Vaughn said of the turnaround. "Our season could have gone one of two ways and I think this will help get us going in the right direction."

Carroll Co. 5, Austin 4 (third place) - Carroll County pounded out nine hits and held on for a 5-4 win over Austin the MCIT third place game at Shawe's Post 9 Field.

The Panthers (14-7) took a 3-1 lead in the fourth and led 5-2 going into the bottom of the seventh. Austin scored twice in the final frame but came up one run short.

Zakk Hicks had a double and a home run and Justin Ray went 3-for-4 to lead Carroll's offense. John Michael Adams also had two hits for the Panthers.

Hunter Spencer had a double and Aaron McIntosh and Josh Helton both had singles for Austin (11-4).

Seth Hicks struck out four and walked three in four innings to pick up the win. Keifer McIntyre worked the final three innings and allowed two runs on two hits to get the save.

Trent McClellan suffered the loss for Austin after allowing five runs - three earned - on nine hits in six and a third innings.

Carroll Co. 19, Shawe 0 (consolation) - Carroll County scored eight runs in the second and cruised to the easy win over Shawe in the consolation semifinals at Shawe.

Jacob Wise had a triple and drove in two runs to lead the Panther offense. Keifer McIntyre and Austin Dunn had two hits each.

Grayson Rhoten doubled and Brad Koehler and Jordan Wentworth each had a single for Shawe (0-10).

Evan McMahon tossed a three-hit shutout with three strikeouts to get the win for Carroll County. Kaelan Jines allowed nine runs - six earned - in two innings for Shawe and suffered the loss.

Austin 6, Southwestern 0 (consolation) - Tanner Craig no-hit Southwestern 6-0 in the consolation semifinals at Madison's Gary O'Neal Field.

It marked the second-straight season that an Austin pitcher has fired a no-hitter at Southwestern in the MCIT. Aaron McIntosh turned the feat a year ago.