Last Friday and Saturday, May 7th and 8th, the San Saba Armadillo varsity baseball team was playing in the Bi-District round of the Texas 2A State Baseball Playoffs. This is the third year in a row that the baseball program has received such an honor.
The action got started right here in San Saba last Friday as we hosted the first baseball playoff game that anyone we spoke with could remember. We knew that Grape Creek would be good; they have a consecutive playoff appearance streak going on as well. The top of their order had some dangerous hitters, obviously. But if we could control the bottom part of the order, keeping them off of the bases, then we would have a lot better chance. No scoring took place until the second inning when the last three hitters in the Grape Creek batting order got a walk, a single, and a hit by pitch. This started one of those rallies that we knew could happen. Along with a fielding error, four runs scored in all.
The Armadillos could not get anything going offensively against the Grape Creek pitcher, Donovan Broadway. We sent 27 batters to the plate and could only get three hits, only seven total even got on. This was only the second time all season that the Dillos had been shut out. Grape Creek would score three more in the third, and one more in the sixth, making the final score of Game 1: Grape Creek-8, San Saba-0.
Game 2 was set for Saturday, with the first pitch being thrown at 1:00 pm. This game would prove to be a little more how we had planned. With the temperature in the low 60’s and the sky being overcast, San Saba was ready to play and started the game aggressively. With one out, Ryan Pannell singled to left, Luke Cox walked, both runners advanced on a wild pitch, Tanner Weyerts struck out, and Tucker Cromer singled to right center to score two runs for San Saba in the top of the first inning.
Grape Creek would answer with two of their own when their third baseman, Rathmell, doubled to left center. Ryan Pannell would strike out the next two batters to end the inning tied 2-2. In the second, San Saba broke it open again capitalizing on four Eagle errors, a sacrifice fly by Ryan Parks, and singles by Cody Herd, Tucker Cromer again, and Zack Davis. Five runs would come in making the score 7-2. Grape Creek would remain scoreless in the second and third innings.
In the fourth inning the Eagles plated four more with two hits, four walks, two hit batters and a sacrifice fly. San Saba would get one more insurance run in the sixth inning. A pitch hit Ryan Pannell and Hayden Oliver came in to pinch run. Oliver would steal second; Luke Cox got on by fielder’s choice but no out recorded. Tanner Weyerts put a ball in play to short and Cox was forced out at second, Oliver advanced to third. Chance Gotcher came in to pinch run for Weyerts in the first and third situation. Gotcher would take off for second early, trying to create a run down situation to score the runner from third. He would beat the throw to second, now making runners at second and third with one out. After a strike out, Zack Davis would single to center and knock in the last run for San Saba.
Ryan Pannell would shut down the Eagles in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. After allowing a leadoff single in the fifth, the next nine batters were set down in order to end the game. This great pitching effort allowed four hits in the entire game and gave the Eagles a .190 team batting average. Pannell’s line was: 7 innings pitched, 6 earned runs, 4 hits, 9 walks, and 5 strike outs. This controlled the runners like we thought we could and our offense did just enough to get the win. The final to Game 2 was: San Saba-8, Grape Creek-6.
After a thirty-minute break, it was time to start Game 3. Rathmell would take the mound for Grape Creek but San Saba started the game just like Game 2. Ryan Parks led off the game with a single to right. Luke Cox would reach by an error at shortstop, Tanner Weyerts bunted to move the runners into scoring position. Tucker Cromer hit a ground ball to short and a throwing error allowed Parks and Cox to score, going up 2 in the first.
Clayton Perry would take the mound for the Dillos, and the Eagles returned the favor. Their leadoff would hit a ball to center that was dropped and the very next batter, Cody Lovette, hit the very next pitch out of the park, score tied 2-2. Three walks and a fielder’s choice got one more in for Grape Creek.
In the second, Cody Herd got on by another error at short, but the Armadillos could not take advantage. The Eagles widened their lead again with the top of their order. With two outs, the one hole got on by fielder’s choice and the two hole, Lovette, hit another 2-run bomb. We put in Ryan Guidroz to pitch that allowed two doubles with an intentional walk in-between. Thus, two more runs scored. Cody Herd entered to pitch for San Saba who allowed a single to left. As the runner left second and rounded third trying to score, Tucker Cromer fielded the ball and fired to the plate in time for Luke Cox to control it and apply a tag. The runner lunged and dove forward to knock the ball out head first, however this is not allowed in high school baseball and not only was the runner called out, he was tossed out of the game.
With the score, Grape Creek-7, San Saba-2, the Dillos would not score again until the fourth inning. Cromer singled to center, Davis got on with another error at short, Flores singled to center scoring Cromer, and Cody Herd hit a ground ball to second for an out, allowing Davis to score from third. Another single by Cromer in the sixth and a double by Davis in the same inning was about all of the offense for San Saba the rest of the afternoon.
Grape Creek would score two in the bottom of the fourth, two more in the bottom of the fifth, and three more in the bottom of the sixth to end the game and enforce the ten run rule. This ended the three game series with a score of: San Saba-4, Grape Creek-14. The Eagles will advance on to the Area round and face Hawley next.
Some bright spots emerge from this experience. Zack Davis had four hits out of nine at-bats for a .444 average in the series. Tucker Cromer also had four hits, but ten at-bats giving him a .400 average. The third leading hitter was Clayton Perry who batted .375, three hits with eight at-bats. Tremendous pitching by Ryan Pannell and decent performances by Cody Herd and Zack Davis came at crucial times when we needed it the most. And, collectively, the defense played the best they have all year only making three errors in twenty innings of play. The Armadillos end the season with a 13 – 15 overall record, 7 – 6 in district, and 1 – 2 in the playoffs. Losing Game 1 made Cody Herd 6 – 6 for the year, 4 – 3 in district, and 0 – 1 in the playoffs. The win in Game 2 made Ryan Pannell 2 – 2 for the year, 1 – 0 in district, and 1 – 0 in the playoffs. The loss in Game 3 made Clayton Perry 3 – 6 for the year, 2 – 3 in district, and 0 – 1 in the playoffs. We are very proud of all 16 of our players that we carried on the squad at various points during the season.
There are so many people to thank for their help, time, input, and cooperation this year it would take a whole article in itself just to list them. We truly appreciate the support showed by everyone on this journey we have been on. These reasons and the players are why we look so forward to doing this each and every year, and we will again next year, too. Thank you.