High school baseball regional quarterfinal roundup

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The Canyon Eagles celebrate after beating rival West Plains in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals at WTAMU on Friday night. [Roy Wheeler/ Press Pass Sports]

Canyon sweeps rival West Plains in 4A regional quarterfinals 

An epic finish Thursday bled into a big start Friday at Wilder Park.

That best explains how in a clash between Canyon ISD schools in the Class 4A region quarterfinals, the established CISD baseball program got by the upstart CISD baseball program.

Veteran program Canyon is moving on after sweeping second-year program West Plains in a historic playoff series. The two games couldn’t have been more different, as Canyon mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh to win the first game 8-7 on Thursday, then the Eagles jumped on top early in Friday’s second game and rolled to a 9-1 victory to complete the sweep.

Canyon (27-7-1) advances to the region semifinals next week, where the Eagles will take on Springtown, who swept Decatur on Friday. It will be a one-game series at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Frenship High School.

The Eagles would appear to be ready for anything after the type of series they had against West Plains (28-8). They’ve built momentum and kept it going in sweeping three straight postseason series.

“I can say a lot about our team and the way we handle situations,” Canyon coach John Doan said. “In the stands it may have looked like we were in control of (game two) but with a lineup like West Plains up and down, it never felt that way in our dugout. I was real proud of the kids for managing the situation. It was a great atmosphere and every pitch was just so big.”

But none were bigger than the one Canyon’s Jacob Burris hit into center field Thursday night to bring home two runs and give the Eagles an improbable game one win. Five batters before that, West Plains reliever Julyen Aguilera had struck out the bottom two hitters in Canyon’s lineup and had nobody on base with the Wolves leading 7-5.

The top of Canyon’s lineup, though, lived up to their billing, with some help from Aguilera and a lack of control. Christian McGuire doubled to left-center and Aguilera then hit Zabien Urteaga with a pitch to put the tying run on base.

The Canyon Eagles celebrate after a Carson Allen (3) homer on Friday night. [Roy Wheeler/ Press Pass Sports]
That led to come control issues by Aguilera, who walked Carson Allen to load the bases, then hit Sam Johnson to force in McGuire and cut the margin to 7-6.

Aguilera was then relieved by Jesse Flores, who had a 2-2 count against Burris, who looped a single into shallow right-center. Urteaga scored, and the throw from the outfield hit Allen in the back, but didn’t keep him from scoring the winning run.

Just like that, all the momentum in the series belonged to Canyon.

“It felt really good not just to me but for our team because it gave us a good energy boost and some confidence,” said Burris, who was 3-for-4 with two triples and five RBIs on the day. “There’s been a lot of big hits but this one’s right up there. It was pretty sweet. I like being up in that situation since we work on it in practice and it’s nothing new to us.”

The trick for the Eagles was maintaining that thrilling energy in the second game, which Doan was confident could happen.

“I obviously loved the finish of last night’s game, it was unbelievable,” Doan said. “(Assistant) coach (Wade) Williams has a psychology degree and I asked him if we needed to calm these guys down and bring them back to reality and he said just let them enjoy the moment and that’s what we did. We kind of wrangled things back in and told them we need to do this one more time to get it done.”

West Plains seemed destined to take a 1-0 series lead for a good chunk of Thursday. In a game featuring a 45-minute lightning delay, the Wolves broke through for five runs in the fifth off Canyon starter McGuire and reliever Urteaga to take a 7-3 lead as Jeremiah Gutierrez capped the inning with a two-run double.

However, Noah Sanchez came on in relief for Canyon and threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings to pick up the win. That wouldn’t have been possible, though, without that last-ditch rally.

As it was, West Plains never recovered from the soul-crushing nature of the loss.

“I really felt like our kids had flushed it well,” West Plains coach Colby Chandler said. “I felt they were pretty loose and felt good about going into (game two). I think it was about what Canyon was able to do, scoring a couple of runs and keeping the momentum going.”

Canyon’s Bayler Schilling delivers a pitch against West Plains on Friday night. [Roy Wheeler/ Press Pass Sports]
In game two, Canyon’s first three batters reached base against West Plains starter Ethan Bentley. McGuire tripled to right and scored on Urteaga’s single, then Allen blasted a two-run home run to right to make it 3-0 and set the tone for the rest of the way.

“Any time you square up a ball like that it’s the greatest feeling in the world,” said Allen, a sophomore who was 3-for-4 and drove in four runs in game two. “Our pitching has been excellent the whole year and I trust them 110 percent of the time. That’s what’s carried us all year.”

That inning was all Canyon’s pitchers needed. Starter Colt Cruth threw four innings and only gave up a run in the third, when Bradley Cepeda’s infield single scored Gutierrez. Bayler Schilling closed it out with three scoreless innings to pick up the save.

Carson Haffner of Randall gets set to throw a pitch against Seminole on Saturday in Plainview. [Roy Wheeler/ Press Pass Sports]

Randall eliminated by Seminole

The Randall Raiders saw their playoff good fortune, not to mention a 19-game winning streak, come to an end Saturday. It also meant the end of their season.

Randall’s bats never quite got going against Seminole, as the Raiders lost the first game of the series 5-4 in 10 innings Friday at Lubbock-Cooper, then fell 5-2 Saturday at Plainview.

The Raiders, who have been undefeated in District 4-4A each of the past two seasons, finished the year 24-11.

Things looked good for the Raiders in game one, as they scored two runs apiece in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 4-1 lead. But those would be the only runs for the Raiders.

Seminole (27-10) tied it with three runs in the top of the seventh off Randall starter Gio Miranda, as Caton Cramer drove in a run with a sacrifice sly and Josh Lopez tied it with a two-run home run.

The game went into extra innings. Seminole broke through in the top of the 10th on Rowin Donaldson’s RBI triple.

Carson Haffner and Brae Silva had two hits each for Randall.

In the second game, the Indians got off to a fast start to doom the Raiders by scoring four runs in the bottom of the first. They got to starter Haffner, who only gave up one more run in five innings.

Haffner hit a solo homer in the eighth for Randall’s final run of the year, capping a game in which the Raiders managed only four hits.

Class 1A

Nazareth falls to Morton 

For the first time in four years the Nazareth Swifts won’t be the Region I representative in Round Rock at the UIL Class 1A state tournament.

After a wild regional semifinal series in Littlefield, the Morton Indians dethroned Nazareth with a 15-12 win on Saturday night.

Morton had won Friday’s first game in blowout fashion 12-0 only to see the Swifts bounce back for a 13-4 victory in the night cap.

On Saturday, Nazareth led a back-and-forth battle 12-11 thanks to a five-run sixth inning. However, in the top of the seventh, the Indians plated four runs and the Swifts weren’t able to answer in their last at-bat.

Nazareth ends a great year at 14-6 while Morton (12-4) advances to face Ira in the regional championship. Despite the loss Saturday, Zane Schulte was 3-for-4 for Nazareth with a double and three RBIs.

H.S. Baseball regional quarterfinal scores 

Class 2A

Ropesville def. Clarendon 

Game 1: Ropesville 1, Clarendon 0
Game 2: Ropesville 5, Clarendon 0
Records: Ropesville 24-6; Clarendon 18-4-1.

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