Canyon’s dream playoff run falls short in UIL Class 4A state semifinals

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Christian McGuire of Canyon makes a throw to first base during the Eagles UIL Class 4A state semifinal against Texarkana Liberty-Eylau at Austin’s Disch-Falk Field. [Alex Garza/ For Press Pass Sports]
Wednesday evening the Canyon Eagles showed a lot of the things which got them to the UIL Class 4A state semifinal at Austin’s Disch-Falk Field.

Sadly, they weren’t quite enough to give coach John Doan the happiest ending possible.
After taking the initial lead against Texarkana Liberty-Eylau, the Eagles found offense hard to come by for the final six innings.

As it turned out, the three runs Liberty-Eylau scored in the top of the third were the last runs of the game for anybody, but they were enough to end Canyon’s season and Doan’s career by a 3-1 count.

Head coach John Doan has announced this was his final season after leading the Eagles for the past 21 years. [Alex Garza/ For Press Pass Sports]
It had been a wild ride through the postseason for Canyon (30-9-1), which has been inspired by the announcement that Doan, who after 21 seasons at the helm of Canyon baseball, is retiring from coaching.

Typically, Doan gave his players all the credit for making it this far.

“We told the players they would have the opportunity to lead our team,” Doan said. “If the coach led we might have a chance, but when the players started pulling the strings , holding each other accountable and taking over the team, we knew something very special could happen. They built beautiful memories which will last them a lifetime.”

Zabien Urteaga of Canyon slides in safely at home to score a run for the Eagles. [Alex Garza/ For Press Pass Sports]
Canyon got on the board first in the bottom of the first, as Jacob Burris singled to right to drive in Zabien Urteaga for a 1-0 lead. But that was it as far as Canyon’s offense was concerned, at least as far as scoring. The Eagles managed only four hits.

Liberty-Eylau (32-9-1) didn’t exactly crush the ball either, as neither team collected an extra base hit. But the offense the Leopards put together in the top of the third on three hits proved to be the difference.

W.T Jones and Triston Haugh led off the inning with back-to-back singles off Canyon starter Colt Cruth. Britain Pipes singled to bring home a run and tie it 1-1. Another run came home on a wild pitch to give Leopards a 2-1 lead, and Pipes scored on a groundout by ELi Jarvis to make it 3-1.

Colt Cruth of Canyon delivers a pitch during the UIL Class 4A state semifinals. [Alex Garza/ For Press Pass Sports]
That concluded the game’s scoring. Cruth was pulled for fellow junior Urteaga in the fourth, and Urteaga pitched four scoreless innings in relief to keep the Eagles in it. Among others, Cruth, Urteaga and Burris will all return next season for whoever will coach the Eagles.

“With the players we have coming back we can run this all back and do it again,” Doan said. “When they do, I will be on the front row to witness it.”

In four of their final five innings, the Eagles got a runner on base. Sophomore Noah Sanchez led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to right and senior Christian McGuire came up as the tying run.

W.T. Jones relieved winning pitcher Cam Gamble, though, and got McGuire to ground into a double play. Urteaga then flew out to right to end the game.

Liberty-Eylau    003 000 0 – 3 8 0
Canyon              100 000  0 – 1 4 0
Dylan Nabors, Cam Gamble (1), W.T. Jones (7) and Gabe Jarvis. Colt Cruth, Zabien Urteaga (4) and Rece Davis. W– Gamble (9-4). L– Cruth (7-2). Records: Liberty-Eylau 32-9-1. Canyon 30-9-1.

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