WHITEHOUSE -- The Whitehouse Wildcats reached the state baseball tournament a season ago without ever having to experience an elimination game. If they want to get back, they'll face two of them Saturday.

Mansfield Legacy earned a 4-2 win over the defending state semifinalist Wildcats in Game 1 of their Class 4A Region II bi-district playoff series Friday night, putting Whitehouse's season-long goal of returning to state in serious jeopardy.

Wildcats coach Derrick Jenkins was rather direct in the postgame message to his team.

Mansfield Legacy's Karson Houston is congratulated by his team on the way back to the dugout after scoring in the Broncos' 4-2 win over Whitehouse in Game 1 of their Class 4A bi-district playoff series Friday night in Whitehouse. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

"You've got seven innings left, seniors. That's it," Jenkins said. "If you don't come out tomorrow ready to go, you've got seven innings and your year is over. Very unexpected."

Whitehouse (21-6), which won its first 14 games of the season and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the state polls, labored through its playoff opener by issuing six walks, committing three costly errors and managing just four hits.

"It's kinda been the same thing all year long," Jenkins said. "We struck out three times up until the final two innings, then we struck out (five times in the last two innings). We're just not seeing the game. At this level right here against teams like this, you've got to see the game from start to finish. The game changes every play, and when you don't do that right there, it's a struggle."

Whitehouse's Patrick Mahomes fires off a pitch against Mansfield Legacy during Game 1 of their Class 4A bi-district playoff series Friday night in Whitehouse. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

After being held to just one hit through the game's first four innings, Whitehouse finally broke through for a pair of runs to cut Mansfield Legacy's lead to 3-2. But the Wildcats could've had more.

Whitehouse loaded the bases with no outs, but had to settle for a bloop RBI single from Caleb McNulty and a sacrifice fly RBI by Eric Munoz in an inning that began with a Ryan Cheatham single, Rex Swinney walk and Peyton Conser being hit by a pitch.

Legacy got one of the runs back in the top of the sixth, thanks to a pair of critical errors. With a runner at second and two outs, Corey Murray reached on a fielding miscue by the Whitehouse second baseman. Murray then broke toward second on a stolen-base attempt, which drew a throw. The runner at third made a break for home and scored when the Wildcats' second baseman's throw skipped past the Whitehouse catcher.

"You get bases loaded and you've got to go get three runs right there," Jenkins said of Whitehouse's half of the fifth inning. "You can't strike out and you've got to put some pressure on some people. They made some plays but in that situation if you put some pressure on them and you get three or four hits right there, the ballgame's over. Then you give them the fourth run in the top of the sixth inning, and you've got to score two instead of one. We just come into the game and it takes us a long time to see it."

Mansfield Legacy's Cole Hearrean delivers a pitch against Whitehouse during Game 1 of their Class 4A bi-district playoff series Friday night in Whitehouse. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Mansfield Legacy starter Cole Hearrean wasn't threatened the rest of the way. The left-hander struck out the final five batters he faced to cap his 131-pitch complete game. He finished with eight strikeouts, while allowing two runs on four hits and one walk. Hearrean was also 3-for-4 with two RBIs at the plate.

It was a rough start for Whitehouse pitcher Patrick Mahomes, who was pulled after recording just one out in the third inning and Mansfield Legacy leading, 3-0. Control was the issue for Mahomes, who walked five, hit a batter and threw two wild pitches.

"Being around him for four years, you can tell pretty quick whether he's got it or whether he doesn't," Jenkins said of Mahomes. "And today you could just tell he wasn't in a zone. We got him out quick at about 60 pitches, which is like a bullpen. Hopefully if we get to a Game 3 tomorrow, he can go a little bit."

Mansfield Legacy took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning after Karson Houston walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Murray. The Broncos added to their lead with two more runs off Mahomes in the third when Hearren's two-run single brought home Murray and Sam Mahofski, who reached on a walk and hit by pitch, respectively.

"It's rough when you've got a three-game series and you've got a kid right there that you're hoping goes six or seven innings and wins you a ballgame," Jenkins said. "He's at 62 pitches by the time we took him out in the third. It just puts a strain on everything you do for the rest of the series."

The winner of the series will face McKinney North, which swept Pine Tree in their first-round playoff series.

Whitehouse's Eric Munoz makes contact during the Wildcats' 4-2 loss to Mansfield Legacy in Game 1 of their Class 4A bi-district playoff series Friday night in Whitehouse. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Mansfield Legacy 4, Whitehouse 2

Class 4A Region II Bi-District Playoff Series -- Game 1

At Whitehouse

Mansfield Legacy       102    001    0    --    4    6    0
Whitehouse                000    020    0    --    2    4    3

Pitchers and catchers
  • Mansfield Legacy: Cole Hearrean and Corey Murray.
  • Whitehouse: Patrick Mahomes, Peyton Conser (3) and Rex Swinney.

 

WP -- Hearrean.
LP -- Mahomes.

 

Triples
  • Whitehouse: Ryan Cheatham.