All the bad things the Randall Raiders had avoided almost the entire season happened when they could least afford them Wednesday afternoon.
The Raiders got off on the wrong foot against Texarkana Liberty-Eylau in the Class 4A state semifinal game at Disch Falk Field at the University of Texas in Austin. They came back late, but had a tough backstretch, and saw their season end short of a state championship with a 15-5 loss.
It was a tough end to what might have been the best season in Randall baseball history, as the Raiders (38-5) made their second appearance in the state tournament in school history. The 15 runs the Raiders gave up equaled the total they’d surrendered during the entire postseason.
Liberty-Eylau (33-6) took a 6-0 lead against unbeaten Randall ace Duncan Bowles in the first inning. The Raiders cut the deficit to two runs in the bottom of the fifth, but the Leopards put it away by closing the game with eight unanswered runs.
“It wasn’t the start we wanted, but Duncan didn’t throw bad,” Randall coach Cory Hamilton said. “We had two balls leave the infield and before you know it there were six runs on the board. Duncan then put up a zero, a zero, a zero and a one, so we stayed in the game. We got it back to 7-5, then we had a walk, a hit batter, a walk, a hit batter and you just can’t put runners on that easy.”
Liberty-Eylau’s Cal Jones, who turned out to be the winning pitcher in relief, started the game with a single off Bowles, and ended the first inning uprising with a two-run single to make it 6-0. In between, W.T. Jones, the starter who Cal relieved, hit a two-run triple, highlighting an inning where the Leopards sent 12 men to the plate and had seven hits, half their total for the game.
Randall chipped away, cutting the lead to 6-3, as Kaden Juarez had RBI singles in the first and fourth innings. The Raiders then scored a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth to cut it to 7-5 and a late rally looked very possible.
However, things fell apart for Randall in the top of the sixth. Releiver Logan Tice, who was stellar on the mound for the Raiders in beating Wichita Falls in the region semifinals and shut out Stephenville in game three of the region final to send the Raiders to Austin, struggled mightily with his control. Tice walked two batters and hit two more to bring home a run. Tice then gave up back-to-back singles to Aydan Easter and Collin Evans to make it 10-5.
Carson Haffner then relieved Tice, but the Leopards added two unearned runs to make it 12-5 and end the competitive phase of the game. Liberty-Eylau added three more runs in the top of the seventh.
“These guys are similar to a lot of opponents we’ve played throughout the year and we played them well, we just were a little uncharacteristic on the mound today and didn’t defend like we normally do,” Hamilton said.
Senior Payton Bush had three hits for Randall and Juarez had two. It was their final game in a Randall uniform, along with nine other seniors.
“I’m not even ready wrap my emotions around losing this senior class,” Hamilton said. “From the top to the bottom those guys are quality people. They’re great ambassadors for Randall baseball. They put their hart and souls on the field and got us to this point. As long as they could have played one more day.”
Fayetteville shuts out Nazareth in 1A state semi’s
Another stellar season came to an end for Nazareth as the Swifts fell in the UIL Class 1A state semifinals to Fayetteville 4-0 on Wednesday afternoon at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.
The Swifts, who were making their third consecutive trip to the UIL state baseball tournament, end the year at 18-5 overall. The Lions improve to 20-6 and will now take on Abbott (22-4) in the state championship game at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
After a pitching and defensive battle through four innings, Fayetteville opened things up in the top of the fifth. Leading 1-0, the Lions were able to extend that advantage when Keagan Supak drove a two-run single to left field putting Fayetteville up 3-0.
That lead was more than enough for pitcher Chance Konvicka (5-1) who kept Nazareth hitters off balanced. Konvicka tossed a complete game, scattering three hits with nine strikeouts. Nazareth’s Carson Heiman (8-3) took the loss going 4.2 innings allowing four runs. Jack Welps was 2-for-3 at the plate for the Swifts.