High School Baseball Amarillo-area roundup

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The Canyon Eagles celebrate after getting a walk-off single by Christian McGuire to beat West Plains during a District 4-4A game on Thursday. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]

District 4-4A

The status quo looked the same after the first 48 hours of District 4-4A play at the end of Friday, at least judging by past and present results.

Chances are, though, it’s going to get a lot more complicated over the next 12 games, but what’s certain is that the Canyon ISD schools are all going to be right in the middle of it.

CISD’s two oldest programs, Canyon and Randall, opened 4-4A by hosting its newest school, West Plains. The results of the two games were near carbon copies, setting up a major clash Tuesday to stay in the district lead.

It’s no surprise that Canyon and Randall will meet with a chance for the winner to take sole possession of the district lead after they both scored wins over West Plains on walk-off singles for hard fought victories on Thursday and Friday respectively. When the Eagles (13-3-1, 2-0 in district) host the Raiders (8-10, 2-0), don’t be surprised if similar drama transpires.

The irony is that West Plains (13-5, 0-2) entered district play with a No. 11 ranking. Don’t be surprised of the Wolves howl before things are done.

“West Plains is a quality, quality program,” said Canyon coach John Doan after his team pulled out a 4-3 victory over the Wolves. “They are so good, and for us to hang on and play all seven innings was awesome to see. We told the guys not to ride the wave of the game and get too high or too low and I think that’s exactly what they did. They showed a lot of maturity.”

Steadiness has been Canyon’s trademark during Doan’s two-decade reign at the helm of the program. The same can be said for Randall, although the Raiders are in transition following the departure of coach Cory Hamilton after 15 seasons, not to mention the fact they also lost several key players from last season’s team which went to the state semifinals.

But the culture seems to be the same for those who are left. Randall opened district by beating Dumas 5-0 on Thursday, then pulled out a pitchers’ duel against West Plains on Friday, winning 3-2 in eight innings.

The win gave new coach Brad Propst, a Randall alum, his first home district win, and his feelings after beating West Plains were similar to Doan’s.

“That was a good ball club we were able to take down today,” Propst said. “They’re going to be in the fight again just as we will. This team has struggled early and we’re trying to find out who we are, and winning these first two district games is going to help us with our identity. When you win games like that you start believing you can do things.”

In competitive terms, the two CISD clashes lived up to the hype. Both Canyon and West Plains went unbeaten in the Amarillo KISD’s Randy Keller Memorial Tournament, and they showed why in the district opener.

West Plains immediately got the upper hand, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning on consecutive double by Bryton Bertrand, Garrett Hamilton and Johnie Gifford. The Wolves led 3-0 and had knocked Canyon starter Christian McGuire out by the fourth inning.

However, they couldn’t touch Canyon relievers Colt Cruth and Zabien Urteaga over the final four innings. West Plains got only two hits in that span and got only one runner as far as third base.

“I can’t say enough about our relief pitching this year, especially today,” Doan said. “(West Plains) barreled up some baseballs but our outfield was in a good spot and we’ve got athletes out there who can make plays so that was awesome to see.”

Canyon’s Carson Allen scores the game-winning run against West Plains on Thursday. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]
Still, Canyon trailed 3-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh. The Eagles were down to their final out when Carson Allen, who scored Canyon’s only runs up to that point, tied the game with an RBI double off West Plains reliever Reid Macon.

Then McGuire more than made up for getting pulled off the mound early, as he singled to left to drive home Allen, giving the Eagles their only lead when it counted most.

“That’s a great feeling,” said McGuire, who moved to shortstop after he was pulled from the mound. “There’s no quit in this team. No matter what happens in the first couple of innings we’re never out of it. This team’s very confident no matter what the score is.”

One day later at Randall, West Plains didn’t seem to show a lot of negative effects from the loss to Canyon. The Wolves scored in their first at-bat on Hamilton’s single which drove in Bradley Cepeda for a 1-0 lead, but offense proved hard to come by for both teams.

Randall took a 2-1 lead with a pair of unearned runs off West Plains starter Ethan Bentley, but nobody would score again until the top of the sixth, when Gifford hit a solo home run to left to tie it 2-2.

The game went to the eighth inning, and with one out Bentley reached with an infield single off Randall starter Brae Silva, who was then pulled as he was approaching the 110-pitch limit. Ty Hoelting came in and gave up an infield single to Bertrand and walked Gifford to load the bases. However, he got Hamilton to pop to short and Julyen Aguilera to ground back to the mound and preserve the tie.

With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Kameron Johnson singled off West Plains reliever Aguilera. Breken Melton then reached on an error and Brae Silva was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Brae Silva of Randall delivers a pitch against West Plains on Friday. [Roy Wheeler/ Press Pass Sports]
Blaine Brannon then lined an 0-1 pitch to left center to drive home the winning run and move the Raiders to 2-0 in district after they’d beaten Dumas 5-0 on Thursday.

“I saw Brae get walked before me and it was just a matter of fact that I had to get the job done,” Brannon said. “You don’t have to hit the bomb or anything, just put it in play with the runner on third to score the winning run. Growing up, my dad’s always been like ‘Enjoy the moment.’ You can make the big moments small moments.”

West Plains has definitely shown it can compete in district. The Wolves did hardly anything wrong in two games against their older CISD brethren but didn’t have a win to show for it.

“We really just need to focus on little things we haven’t done well,” West Plains coach Colby Chandler said. “Our approach at the plate hasn’t been great the last two games but you have to credit Canyon and Randall pitching. It’s a little frustrating that we weren’t able to plate any more runs than we did. I’m super proud of our guys on the mound.”

Canyon improved to 2-0 in district by beating Borger 9-4 on Friday.

Thursday’s 4-4A scores

Canyon 4, West Plains 3
Randall 5, Dumas 0
Hereford 6, Pampa 0
Perryton 9, Borger 6

Friday’s 4-4A scores

Randall 3, West Plains 2
Canyon 9, Borger 4

Payne Williams of Amarillo High delivers a pitch against Caprock on Friday during a District 3-5A clash. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]

District 3-5A

They might not have been dominant, but the Amarillo High Sandies looked like they established themselves as the team to beat in 3-5A after opening their schedule with a pair of wins over their fellow Amarillo ISD schools.

Amarillo High opened district play Friday with a 5-2 win over Caprock, then followed that up Saturday with an 8-4 win over Palo Duro. The Sandies (13-8, 2-0) were the only team to play two games to open district and win them both.

“I’d say we found a way to win,” AHS coach Randon Johnson said. “I think we kind of matched the weather a bit which has been drizzly and dreary out here. If we can put three different phases of the game together it would be really good. We had another day of looking really good on the mound.”

Payne Williams pitched five innings to get the win at Caprock and left-hander Clayton Norrell did the same thing against Palo Duro. In both games, junior Creed Dye got the save for the Sandies.

All eight of Amarillo High’s runs against Palo Duro (3-14, 0-1) were unearned, as the Sandies took advantage of eight PD errors. Meanwhile, the Sandies were clean in the field against the Dons, not committing an error.

Tascosa joined the Sandies in the win column Saturday by beating Caprock 4-0. Sophomore left-hander Coltyn Fulton threw a three-hit shutout and Andrew Merrell was 3-for-3 and drove in three runs.

The Rebels (4-12, 1-1) pulled even in district after losing to Plainview 9-5 in Friday’s district opener.

It was the second tough loss for Caprock (4-10, 0-2) to open district, as the Longhorns had two solid pitching outings. Against Tascosa, Matthew Hulen struck out 10 while giving up six hits and walking one.

District 1-2A

Sunray is off to the races in District 1-2A with another dominating win.

The Bobcats bats exploded during a 26-4 route of Follett on Friday finishing with 19 hits in the game.

Sunray plated nine in the first, seven in the second and then sealed the run-rule victory with 10 runs in the third. Azriel Vargas went a perfect 3-for-3 with a double driving in two runs and scoring four times. Luke Grajeda was 2-for-2 with four RBIs and Pedro Barba added on a 3-for-4 day at the plate with a pair of RBIs and scored three times.

Sunray (6-3) is 2-0 in district while Follett falls to 0-2 overall and in the league.

Much like Sunray, Gruver got a lopsided win thanks to a six-run seventh inning to down West Texas High on the road Friday.

The Greyhounds led 5-1 before a huge top of the seventh that saw six runs come across to put the Comanches away.

Sophomore Briggs Satterfield was dominant tossing 6.1 innings giving up only two hits with eight strikeouts to get the win. At the plate, Satterfield did his job going 2-for-5 with a double finishing with three RBIs and three runs scored.

Gruver (4-4) gets its first district win improving to 1-1. The Comanches fall to 5-6 overall and 1-1 in league play.

In the other district game Friday, Booker handled Sanford-Fritch with a 10-3 win.

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