District baseball roundup: Canyon ISD teams shine, Jason Patrick wins 300th, Palo Duro shocks Amarillo High

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Randall’s Payton Bush drives a base hit to center field during the Raiders District 4-4A game with West Plain on Saturday. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]
On paper, it would appear that the first weekend of District 4-4A play went as would be expected for the Canyon ISD schools.

But while the old guard succeeded and the new guard fell short, closer examination reveals it wasn’t that simple, and that should make things that much more interesting as the season progresses.

The epicenter of Friday’s and Saturday’s district action was at CISD’s newest school, West Plains, as the first-year Wolves hosted fellow CISD schools Canyon and Randall respectively. Considering the experience and track records of the latter two schools, it’s no surprise that West Plains came out of the week 0-2 in district.

However, the Wolves (10-7) sent a message to the rest of the district that they won’t be pushovers, as Friday they almost erased a seven-run deficit in an 8-7 loss to Canyon, then Saturday they threw a scare into district favorite Randall, as the No. 3 Raiders needed two runs in the top of the eighth inning to escape with a 5-3 victory.

“We were in two really, really good games,” West Plains coach Colby Chandler said. “(Friday) we opened up and didn’t throw a lot of strikes early and kind of put ourselves in a hole. We fought back and that’s what I love about this team. All year there hasn’t been a game we haven’t felt like we could have won or should have won.”

Randall (16-3, 2-0), on the other hand, has to believe it can win every time it takes the field. The Raiders opened district in predictably impressive fashion Friday against Dumas, as Duncan Bowles set the tone by throwing a no-hitter with 12 strikeouts, as Randall routed the Demons 12-0 in a six-inning 10-run mercy rule decision.

Ethan Bentley of West Plains turns the corner for home plate against Randall on Saturday. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]
It was a tougher go against West Plains, however. The Wolves took a 2-0 lead and scored a run in each of the first three innings against Randall left-hander Carson Haffner, but got nothing on the Raiders after that, as they couldn’t advance a runner past second base in the last five innings against Haffner and reliever Logan Tice.

West Plains was up to the challenge on the mound as well. Left-hander Bryton Bertrand pitched seven strong innings as well.

There were a lot of familiar faces to Randall and coach Cory Hamilton on West Plains, since before that school opened many of those players were in the Randall system.

“I thought their effort was amazing,” Hamilton said of the Wolves. “Bryton Bertrand, we’re very familiar with him. He was at Randall last year. He has good stuff, and I was really proud of him today. I was proud even more so that we hung around.”

Randall tied the game 2-2 in the top of the third on A.J. Lucero’s sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Kaden Juarez. In the bottom of the inning, West Plains scored an unearned run to take a 3-2 lead.

That’s the way it stayed until the top of the sixth, when Mason Gilbert’s two-out single to left drove home Juarez to tie it 3-3. Both teams went scoreless in the seventh to force extra innings.

The Raiders mounted a two-out rally in the eighth to take the lead for the first and only time. Haffner and Gilbert had back-to-back singles off reliever Brett Walker to put runners on the corners, and with two outs they ran a first-and-third double steal, which resulted in the Wolves throwing the ball away and Gilbert scoring. Blaine Brannon singled to right to bring home Haffner with an insurance run.

Tice survived an error in the bottom of the inning to retire the side and earn the win with two innings of hitless relief, capping two days of stellar pitching for the Raiders.

“Carson threw really well with 10 strikeouts and gave us a chance to win until our offense could score,” Hamilton said. “It’s always been my belief that it begins on the mound and it ends on the mound. Pitching and defense we’ve got to hang our hat on and with our lineup I think we’ll get more guys on and score more runs typically.”

Yet, the Raiders needed everything they could get to deal with West Plains. It’s a signal that the Wolves should be a factor in the district race and compete with arguably then area’s best team.

“That’s a great team over there,” Chandler said of Randall. “We had a great performance on the mound by Bryton Bertrand and he did a great job of keeping them off balance. We put ourselves in a place to win a game and we just didn’t come through.”

If you haven’t gotten enough of CISD baseball to start district play, you’re in luck Tuesday. Randall will host Canyon (12-4, 2-0) at 5 p.m. to determine who remains on top of the district.

Canyon followed up Friday’s win over West Plains by beating Borger 11-1 on Saturday in a six-inning run-rule win.

District 4-4A scores

Friday’s games

Canyon 8, West Plains 7
Randall 12, Dumas 0
Hereford 7, Pampa 1
Perryton 6, Borger 3

Saturday’s games

Randall 5, West Plains 3
Canyon 11, Borger 1
Pampa 5, Perryton 4
Hereford 19, Dumas 0

Amarillo High’s Payne Williams delivers a pitch against Caprock on Friday at the Sandies Baseball Complex. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]

District 3-5A sees hectic start 

History going back to 2001 was celebrated (or in one case, best forgotten) as district play began Friday.

Late Friday afternoon, Tascosa coach Jason Patrick, who began his head coaching career with the Rebels in 2001, got his 300th career win with a 7-6 victory over Plainview at Rebel Field. After the Rebels scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 6-0 lead, Plainview rallied to tie the game with three runs in the top of the seventh before Tascosa’s Ryan Wingate drove home winning pitcher Will David on a sacrifice fly to left for the winning run.

“You think about it because people talk about it,” said Patrick of the landmark win. “I would have liked for it to happen a little sooner this year but that’s not our focus. I told our team now that it’s over with let’s get 301 and our focus is on winning a district championship and do something this school has never done.”

Patrick’s win came appropriately on St. Patrick’s Day at home. The Rebels donned green uniforms (which they’ve done three times in Patrick’s tenure, and he says they’re 3-0 wearing them) and in place of the school’s name on the front, they read “St. Patty’s” in red lettering.

It just so lined up that Patrick’s victory came at the most appropriate time, but he didn’t plan it that way, and he wanted to get it in the previous week’s Randy Keller Memorial Baseball Tournament.

“My first win was against Hereford and that was also win No. 299,” Patrick said. “If I’d gotten a win somewhere before that, win 300 would have been against Hereford. My goal is to get us into the playoffs and win district. I knew it would happen at some point and it’s kind of nice to get it out of the way and take this team to the next level.”

In Patrick’s first season at Tascosa, Palo Duro beat Amarillo High in the Keller Tournament. That didn’t happen again until Saturday, when it counted in district play.

Palo Duro’s Charlie Love got a base hit in the bottom of the eighth to give the Dons a 4-3 victory over Amarillo High and send a seismic message to the rest of the district. It was Palo Duro’s first district baseball victory over the Sandies in at least a quarter century and puts the Dons (10-8, 1-0) solidly in the playoff picture, and in fact, sole possession of the district lead.

Saturday was a topsy-turvy day all the way around in the district. Patrick’s celebration of his 300th win was short-lived, as Tascosa (9-8, 1-1) fell to Caprock 8-4. That came a day after Caprock (3-13-1, 1-1) lost to Amarillo High (7-10-2, 1-1) 11-1 in a six-inning run-rule decision.

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