Progress staff reports
Jacksonville Daily Progress
After winning a thrilling 5-4 decision over China Spring in the opener of a Class 3A, Region III Ara series late Friday night, the Rusk Eagles appeared to be well on their way to winning the Area title and advancing into the regional quarterfinal round later this week.
But the Cougars, the third-place representative out of District 17-3A, refused to wave the white towel as China Spring came back to claim a pair of slugfests over Rusk at Eagle Park Saturday evening by scores of 15-8 and 9-6.
Those wins allowed the Cougars (26-9) to move on, while Rusk, the District 19-3A champions, end the year at 17-17.
China Spring had previously defeated College Station, 2-1, in a bi-district series to earn the spot opposite the Eagles.
Rusk will lose the services of four seniors who are schedule to graduate this spring, but will return a half-dozen juniors for 2014, giving the Eagles a solid nucleus for next season.
Those young men scheduled to graduate are, Michael Crews, Houston Munsinger, Reece Goldsberry and Drew Walley.
Jason Barnes, who was in his first season at the helm of the Eagle program, served as Rusk head coach this year.