The San Saba Armadillo baseball team faced off with the Merkel Badgers in the Bi-District round of the Texas 2A State Playoffs, held at Eastland High School, last Thursday and Friday. The facilities were outstanding, the crowds were awesome, and the action was entertaining.
On Thursday, we were the home team. Cody Herd took the mound first as we have been accustomed to. A couple of Badgers got on, and a couple got some hits. Merkel drew first blood and scored two runs in the top of the first. Then we got our chance. Zack Davis hit a triple over the centerfielder’s head. Luke Cox hit a ball too short, who bobbled it, allowing Davis to score. Cody Herd also hit a ball to short and they got the out this time. However, Cox was running from first to second and kept on for third. The throw back across the infield from first base to third base was errant, and Cox leaped over the third baseman, stepped on the bag and went on home to score. From here the Dillos never looked back.
With the score now 2-2, Herd and the defense did not allow any more runs at all. The Badgers never put back to back hits together the entire game. Herd allowed 5 hits total and struck out 9, going the full 7 innings. This was another outstanding performance by the senior.
The Dillo offense came to life again in the third inning by scoring three runs. A one out walk by Davis was followed by a sacrifice bunt by Luke Cox to get the runner to second with two outs. Ryan Pannell hit a very hard single to left, so hard that Davis could not score from second. Herd hit a double to the outfield to plate Davis and get Pannell to third. Tucker Cromer then put a ball in play and a low throw to first pulled the first baseman off the bag, allowing two more runs to score on the error. In the next inning, Miguel Flores got on with a single. Kobe Cisneroz laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner. After a strikeout, Davis put a ground ball into play that was mishandled by the third baseman, and Flores scored as Davis went on to second. Luke Cox hit a hard single to right field and Davis was tagged out on a bang, bang play at the plate. Nice
defensive teamwork by the Badgers. This increased the lead to 6-2, which was the final score. The Armadillos won game one and just needed one more win in two possible chances to advance to the next round.
On Friday, we were set to start the first game at 5:00 and play another game 30 minutes after that one if it did not come out in our favor. This time we were visitors and went to bat first. Zack Davis started things off right, again, by sending a pitch over the left field wall for a home run and a very quick 1-0 lead. The rally continued with Luke Cox getting on by single, then a strikeout, Cox stole second, and Cody Herd singled, knocking in Cox. Two more strikeouts would end the inning, but again we pushed two runs across in the first inning, much like the day before.
Our day two pitcher, Ryan Pannell, took charge on the mound. He got out of the first inning with a walk, strikeout, walk, strikeout, and ground out. In the second, it was walk, ground out fielded by JT Mathis to Cody Herd at first for an out, fly out to Herd at first, and strikeout. In the third, Pannell went strikeout, walk, and a line drive caught by Mathis up the middle throwing back over to Herd at first to finish a double play and to end the inning. After a fly ball to Kobe Cisneroz in right in the fourth, the next batter hit a chopper to Pannell’s right side and as he tried to make the play, the ball glanced off and the runner was safe. Even if Pannell had not touched it, the ball would have been slow and short, making the runner safe with an infield hit to break up the no-hitter. The runner advanced on a passed ball, but got caught off guard and in a run down when Luke Cox threw down to second in between pitches to pick him off. Another ground ball to Mathis at second and on to Herd at first ended the inning.
The Dillos would not score again until the fifth when after one out, Davis reached by an error on the pitcher, a pitch hit Cox, and Pannell singled in Davis. Herd hit a sacrifice fly ball to center that was deep enough to score Cox to get two runs in the inning. Another run came across in the sixth when Flores got to second base on an error by first, and Cisneroz singled him home. The last two runs were in the seventh as Davis led off with a walk, Cox singled, and Merkel decided to switch pitchers. Pannell was our next batter and with runners at first and second with nobody out, he got the sacrifice bunt down to get two men into scoring position. Merkel intentionally walked Cody Herd to create forces and load the bases, but the pitcher also walked the next batter, Tucker Cromer, to force in Davis, and the wildness continued to allow BJ Harbour (courtesy running for Cox) to come in on a wild pitch. Eventually, a strikeout and a ground ball finished off the inning.
Groundball to Clayton Perry at shortstop who threw to Herd at first, walk, fielder’s choice Mathis to Perry, and strikeout is how Pannell got out of the fifth. It was the sixth where the first five batters all reached base with a walk, two fielder’s choices, and two singles, which got one runner to cross the plate for Merkel’s first run of the day, making the score 7-1 in favor of San Saba. Not wanting any more momentum to swing the Badgers’ way, we went to the bullpen and brought in Ryan Guidroz to prevent any further damage. He immediately got a fly ball out to Cisneroz in right field to end the sixth. He also cruised through the seventh with a runner on by error, a strikeout, a fly out to Flores in center, and a strikeout to end the game. The dugout and team celebrated with him at the mound as Bi-District Champs.
The two-game standouts were: Luke Cox for most hits, he was 3 for 5 officially, with a walk, one RBI, and scored four times. Cody Herd for most RBI’s with four, he was 2 for 6, one walk, with a double, and scored once. Zack Davis for staying consistent, he was 2 for 5, a triple, a home run, scored FIVE times, with two RBI’s, and two walks. And Cody Herd, Ryan Pannell, and Ryan Guidroz for their combined efforts in pitching, only allowing three total runs on only eight hits, and striking out 16.
The two wins send us on to the next round, which is Area. We will face the Wall Hawks in a best of three series as well. The first game will be tonight, Wednesday, May 11, at 7:00 at McMurry University in Abilene. We will then finish the series on Friday, May 13, starting at 5:00 at Jim Ned High School. If we need game three, it will be 30 minutes after the 5 o’clock game has ended. The high school office has maps and ticket information for both days and both locations. You may also tune into our local radio station, KBAL, to hear live coverage of these games. We look forward to seeing you there. LET’S GO DILLOS, BEAT THE HAWKS!!!