WOODROW- A sensational season for the Bushland Falcon baseball team came to a sad end in more ways than one at the hands of the Wall Hawks in the Class 3A regional semifinals at Lubbock-Cooper’s First United Park on Friday and Saturday.
After taking the first game by an 11-2 count, the Falcons were grounded by the Hawks strong pitching by falling 7-4 in Game 2 on Friday, then suffered a 4-2 in loss in Saturday’s decisive Game 3.
The series couldn’t have started any better as Bushland cruised to an 11-2 victory behind Josh Bass who was stellar on the bump. Bushland’s lone senior handcuffed Wall to four hits and two earned runs with three strikeouts over five innings. Jaxon Fetsch delivered at the plate going 2-for-3 with a double driving in three RBIs.
Game two was a completely different story. This time it was Wall’s Luke Kemp overcoming a shaky start to the contest to limit the Falcon bats to one hit over five innings. Kemp earned the win even with eight walks, however, Kemp did have seven strikeouts. Despite only one hit, Bushland held a 2-1 lead heading into the top of the sixth till Wall was able to break through. The Hawks loaded the bases on reliever Dawson Jaco. After Jaco was taken out for Ty Purcell, Wall was able to break up a 2-2 tie by getting a fielder’s choice from Kellan Oliver, and a Kemp sacrifice fly to go up 4-2 and never look back.
“Game 2 was the one that hurt,” Bushland head coach Joel Love said. “That was pivotal because you want to finish it. I felt like we had them where we wanted them, but we had some things go wrong. I felt like we were in it and it didn’t go the way we wanted.”
Fighting off a rain delay, and heavy rain at times in Saturday’s Game 3, timely moments weren’t there for Bushland. In the top of the second Bushland had the bases loaded and only one out. But the rally stumbled as Cole Warren struck out and Fetsch was caught lingering down the third baseline for an inning-ending double play.
Wall then took full control in the bottom of the fourth off Bushland’s starter Warren. Warren had trouble with the wet conditions walking the bases loaded. The Hawk bats then took full advantage getting RBI singles and a Warren walk to plate another run and all of a sudden it was 4-0 Wall. Bushland had chances to rally but fell short only putting up two runs.
“We waited one inning too late to get guys across the plate,” Love said. “We put a little pressure on them, but we didn’t get it done.”
Bushland, the District 1-3A champions, were the last Class 3A team from the Texas Panhandle standing which has been a common thread over two decades. The Falcons end another fantastic season at 29-5-1 and saw a 17-game win streak dating back to March come to a close.
It was also the final game for head coach Joel Love who announced earlier in the year that this was going to be his final season at the school to pursue other opportunities that can benefit his family.
Love has been a staple at Bushland being a part of the coaching staff for 13 years. The past five seasons as the baseball head coach, Love kept the proud tradition rolling with a tremendous 110-19-1 overall record while never losing a district game.
“The players did every single thing I asked them to do all season,” Love said. “You don’t win as many games as we did or get this far in the playoffs without the team doing what you asked them to do. I love everyone these guys like they are my own. I coached them like they’re my own, and I’m super proud of every one of them. I’ll miss the competition. Sometimes you come to a point in life where you have to make a decision that’s best for your family. But I’ll miss the players and the competition for sure.”