There was a lot of symbolism present Friday afternoon when Randall visited Canyon in a District 4-4A rematch at Double Eagle Field, but it ended pretty much the way it had in the previous nine district games.
Which meant that Randall emerged on top and is officially in the playoffs and looks like a near-lock to grab 4-4A’s No. 1 seed.
In the second meeting between the two Canyon ISD rivals, it had all of the action, if not quite the drama of the first meeting. Randall never trailed and proved highly opportunistic in cruising to a 9-5 victory. Appropriately playing at their main rival’s field, the Raiders (24-3) won their 20th straight game and are perfect in district at a nice, round 10-0.
It also proved that teams need to be near-perfect to beat No. 3 Randall, and Canyon (17-7, 7-3) wasn’t that especially in the field. The Raiders took full advantage of that.
“With high school young men, if you get a lead early and keep it going, it helps tremendously,” Randall coach Cory Hamilton said. “The two runs in the first were a big help, especially when Carson (Haffner) didn’t have his best stuff.”
Haffner went three innings on the mound, long enough to get the win, and the Raiders led 6-2 when he left the game. They did that in large part by playing small ball, and took advantage of five Canyon errors in that time.
Leadoff hitter Payton Bush started the game with a single off Canyon starter Zabien Urteaga and went to second on an errant pickoff throw by Urteaga. Logan Tice then reached on a bunt single which moved Bush to third and Hagen Shedd’s squeeze bunt brought home Bush with the game’s first run. A wild pitch and an error eventually scored Tice for a 2-0 lead.
Despite the fact that the wind was blowing out toward left field, the Raiders did most of their damage early with small ball, setting up some bigger hits.
“It goes back to getting a lead,” Hamilton said. “To do whatever we have to do to get up 1-0 we’re going to do that and from that point on try to separate.”
That happened in the second, as the Raiders got four straight runners on base with two outs. O.J. Beltran’s bunt single and Bush’s ground rule double put two runners on before Canyon second baseman Hunter Anderson misplayed Tice’s grounder to score Beltran. Shedd then hit a two-run double to left to make it 5-0 and knock out Urteaga.
“Every pitch we were looking first-pitch fastball and that’s what we got,” Bush said. “We always want to put pressure on the defense with small ball and anything like that. The wind was blowing out, but no one really got big and tried to put the ball over the fence.”
Canyon did do that against Haffner in the bottom of the inning, as Christian McGuire’s two-run home run to left cut it to 5-2. But the Eagles were unable to get any closer than three runs. It didn’t help the Eagles that they committed a whopping six errors. While Randall managed 12 hits, Canyon gave up five unearned runs.
“They’re the kind of baseball team that needs zero help,” said Canyon coach John Doan of the Raiders. “They do what good teams do, they make you pay for mistakes. Freebies just added up and you can’t beat a baseball team giving up free things.”
It wasn’t as dramatic as the first meeting between the two teams, which do to encroaching night and a lack of lights at Randall, was moved to West Texas A&M, which finished with a 5-4 Randall win in 11 innings.
What this game did have in common with that one is that Tice finished it out on the mound for the Raiders. This time he got a save, relieving Alex Massey in the fourth and pitching the final 3 1/3 innings to nail down the win.
West Plains beats Hereford in 11
The West Plains stayed in the district playoff race in dramatic fashion, scoring three runs in the bottom of the 11th to beat Hereford 9-8 and move within a game of a playoff spot.
In an up-and-down game, the two teams traded blows throughout regulation. Hereford scored two runs in the top of the fifth to take a 6-4 lead, but West Plains (15-10, 5-5) bounced back with two in the bottom of the seventh to tie it at 6 and force extra innings.
That’s the way it stayed for three scoreless extra innings until Hereford (14-7-2, 6-4) scored two in the top of the 11th to take an 8-6 lead. But the Wolves came back with three in the bottom of the inning to claim the win and keep playoff hopes alive.
Garrett Hamilton had three hits and a homer and drove in four runs for West Plains. Ethan Bentley had two hits and drove in two runs.
Pampa crushes Borger, moves into tie for second
Pampa jumped all over Borger, taking a first-inning lead and not letting up in rolling to a 14-0 10-run mercy rule victory at home in five innings to move into a tie for second in the district with Canyon.
The Harvesters (17-7, 7-3) scored four runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back. They scored six runs in the bottom of the third to attain the run-rule margin.
Leadoff hitter Judsen Hancock sparked the Pampa offense by going 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs. Tyler Reed gave up only one hit and struck out nine in five innings.
Borger (4-19, 0-10) didn’t help its cause by committing seven errors.
Randall 9, Canyon 5
West Plains 9, Hereford 8, 11 innings
Pampa 14, Borger 0, 5 innings
Perryton 8, Dumas 3
Palo Duro outslugs Tascosa
Palo Duro got back on its feet offensively in a big way at Tascosa, as Jacob Jimenez led a 16-hit attack to pound out 10-6 victory.
With the win Palo Duro (13-12, 4-4) took the season series from Tascosa, winning two of the three meetings.
Jimenez had four hits and drove in three runs for the Dons, who never trailed. They took a 3-0 lead in the first inning and the Rebels twice cut the deficit to a run but never tied it. Avien Rivero also had four hits for PD.
There was some good news for Tascosa (11-15, 3-7). Since Caprock (4-19-1, 2-8) lost to Plainview 2-1, the Rebels remained alone in fourth place.
Bushland rolls over River Road
The beat went on for Bushland, as the Falcons scored their sixth straight run rule victory to open the second half of district play, crushing River Road 15-1 in five innings at Amarillo High’s Sandie Field.
It was also a milestone victory for Bushland coach Joel Love, who scored career victory number 100.
The No. 10 Falcons (19-3, 6-0) dominated in typical fashion in which district foes have become painfully familiar. Cannon Melban had another stellar performance on the mound, striking out eight.
Kade Gavina had two hits with a homer and three RBIs, and Max Rodriguez had two hits and drove in three runs.
River Road (10-10, 3-3) is a half-game out of second place. However, the Wildcats can take some solace in the fact they’re the only district team who’s scored a run against Bushland.