The San Saba Armadillo baseball team took on the Wall Hawks in the Area round of the Texas 2A State Playoffs this past weekend. The first game was played at McMurry University in Abilene last Wednesday, and the final game was played at Jim Ned High School last Friday.
In Abilene, the game got off to a fine start with Wall being held scoreless after a lead off single. This was due to great pitching by Senior Cody Herd. The Dillos also went scoreless in the first as well. In the second inning, Wall plated two runs as a result of hit batters, two singles to the outfield, and two infield singles that simply could not have defensive plays made on them. Again, the Armadillo batters could not muster a hit or a rally.
It was in the third when the margin to overcome tripled as the Hawks added four more runs to their output. Single, single, sacrifice fly to right, and another single knocked in two and knocked Herd off the mound. Ryan Guidroz came in to control damage like he has done all year. He was met with a double that knocked in one more. Eventually the runner at second would also work his way around to find the plate as well. With the score Wall-6 and San Saba-0, our offense tried to get something started against the ace pitcher for the Hawks. The first batter, Kobe Cisneroz singled to left between the third baseman and the shortstop, which broke up a potential no-hitter. A ground ball and two strikeouts stifled our threat.
Guidroz continued to pitch well and spread out three runs over the next four innings. The downside was that the Armadillos went hitless until the seventh inning. After a pitch hit pinch hitter, Tanner Hawkins, BJ Harbour came in to run for him and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Then, Miguel Flores had a hard single between first and second to bring Harbour in to score. Clayton Perry followed with another very hard hit right at the first baseman. This was recorded as an error and moved Flores to third. However, a strikeout and a pickoff ended the game. The Hawks won 9-1.
Game two saw another great pitching matchup between two left-handed pitchers. Game time weather conditions had a stout wind blowing directly across from left field to right field. This dictated right away that the right side of the infield and outfield would be where most of the action would take place for the day. With San Saba being the visiting team, the Wall pitcher took the mound first and the Dillo batters looked to respond. Down in order, 1-2-3, went the Armadillos. It was time for San Saba hurler, Ryan Pannell, to show his stuff. First, he got a strikeout on a very good leadoff batter. Then a ground ball to short was misplayed, allowing a runner at first. But Pannell reared back and struck out two more to end the inning knotted at zero.
In the second inning, San Saba drew first blood as Tucker Cromer took one for the team in his leg, advanced to second on a passed ball, and let Miguel Flores knock him in with a two out double. This was the first Dillo lead of the series. In the bottom half, Wall retaliated. Four walks, several passed balls, and a balk woven between two strikeouts and a ground ball to short fielded by Clayton Perry is how three runs were allowed and the lead changed back over to the Hawks.
The next punch was thrown by San Saba when Perry led off with a single and Zack Davis sent a ball over the right field wall for a two run homer to tie the game at 3. Pannell had a one out double to left-center, but nothing else to add in the third. Once back on the mound, Pannell allowed a single and two more walks, but got a crucial strikeout to leave the bases loaded. He would also prevent runs from scoring on back-to-back singles in the fourth with the use of two fly balls to Kobe Cisneroz and a ground ball out to Clayton Perry.
Wall broke the tie in the bottom of the fifth with a single, walk, and a single to score one run. An infield pop single allowed JT Mathis enough time to field and throw to Perry at second for a force out. Then, Clayton Perry had a hard ground ball hit close to second base. He picked it up, stepped on the bag, and threw over to Cody Herd at first for an inning ending double play, the pitcher’s best friend. San Saba roared back in the top of the sixth when Cody Herd walked, Tucker Cromer got on as the Hawks forced Herd at second, and then Cromer stole second on a later pitch. Tanner Weyerts hit a deep fly ball that was caught, making two outs. Miguel Flores hit a hard single to center field to bring Cromer around to score, but was thrown out at second. This was a terrible mistake by the first base coach as it stopped our inning, our rally and our momentum. However, the score was brought back to even at 4-4.
It was the bottom of the sixth where Ryan Pannell’s high number of pitches seemed to catch up with him. A double led off the inning, a comebacker out, another double to break the tie, and a walk meant it was time for a change. The pitches were staying high and hittable. Cody Herd came in to relieve since he did not have a long outing last time. His pitches were also up and hittable, allowing back-to-back singles and scoring two more runs. Then we brought in Ryan Guidroz. A walk loaded the bases with one out. A single to left scored one more. A ground ball to short enabled us to get a force at the plate for the second out and brought back up the top of the order. A sinking line drive was hit to Kobe Cisneroz in right field, who tried to make a diving catch. The ball got passed him, three runs scored, and the batter was not satisfied with a triple. The relay throw from Davis to Cox got the batter out at home to end the inning after considerable damage had been done as seven runs came across in all. The last hope for the Dillos came in batters 8, 9, and 10. They too went in order and to no avail, the game ended.
The 2011 Armadillo baseball team finished the season officially with a record of 17-9-1. They were runner up in district with an 11-3 record. They went 2-2 in the playoff's, crowning them Bi-District Champions and advancing them to Area Finalists. Several of these young men will have been honored at our All Sports Banquet that we had this past Tuesday, and will be receiving All-District honors and academic honors in the near future. Our seniors are the first group to have a high school baseball career and not see or expect the opportunity to be in the playoff's. The deep run in ’08 was their freshman year and they were on the JV. We have placed second or third in every season since. We will truly miss you guys. It has been an honor and privilege to work with all of the players on both teams this year. And like always, we will be looking forward to next year to pick up and improve ourselves as we head down the road of success that these players and the ones before them have laid. A huge thank you to ALL of the people behind the scenes (too many to name individually). I know that I would leave somebody out. You cannot have a twenty-seven game season that lasts four months without a cooperative team effort of many, many people. We are truly grateful and are blessed to have each and every one of you on our side. Thank you, congrats to the Dillos, and we will see you when the grass greens up in the spring next February!!