Pleasant Grove’s State Tournament Streak Ends in Shocking Fashion
MOUNT PLEASANT -- The series finale between Pleasant Grove and Argyle made a strong case for Saturday's most exciting game in the state.
Unfortunately, East Texas lost a power player. The Hawks gained a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth and then gave up a two-run rally in the top of the seventh for Argyle to clinch the Class 3A Region II semifinal series at Northeast Texas Community College.
The loss snapped Pleasant Grove's streak of six-consecutive state tournament appearances.
"Once we got into the playoffs, we started to do a lot of things right," skipper Craig Jones said. "But I also told them we were supposed to playing that way and getting to that level a long time ago to advance to a different day. We were a little short of the whole deal. Just a little short."
Hawks pitcher Jarod Bayless and Argyle's TCU-bound pitcher Drew Gooch turned in masterful performances. The game took about an hour and 40 minutes to complete and multiple frames were closed in less than 10 pitches.
The two adversaries each pitched three perfect innings over the game's course.
Bayless threw for contact and allowed just four hits and two walks.
Gooch gave up five hits and eight total base runners. He also forced nine infield outs.
It looked promising for Pleasant Grove (25-12) at multiple points in the game before the Hawks were able to break the deadlock. The regional power stranded three runners in scoring position prior to the sixth, including two runners in the first inning.
Back-to-back errors on Argyle's shortstop put Jacob Silvey and Bayless at the corners to set up the Hawks' score. Designated hitter Jacob Bennett hit an RBI single through the left gap to plate Silvey.
Bayless had a narrow opportunity to come home on the hit, but he lost his balance as he approached third base and was held up while Bennett advanced to second on the throw to home.
Gooch got out of the jam with a ground ball to the shortstop.
Down to its last three outs, Argyle (29-9-1) put together a six at-bat seventh frame.
With one out and its own runners at the corners, the Eagles' Cutter McDonald attempted to steal second base and Hawks catcher Brooks Langdon overthrew the bag. It allowed Ryley Balch to tie the game from third base and moved McDonald all the way to third.
Gooch was the next batter and laid down a sacrifice bunt along the first base line to score McDonald.
Pleasant Grove's Brayden Nicholson drew a leadoff walk on five pitches to begin the bottom of the seventh inning, but he was picked off on a pitchout with Jacob Smith attempting a bunt.
Smith hit a fly ball to center field for the second out.
The game ended two at-bats later with Joe Pearlman's ground ball to first base after Hudson Hopkins recorded a base hit and moved to second base on a throwing error.
It was the end for several seniors who have done some remarkable things in the name of their school. The Hawks won the 2012 Class 3A title and made championship game appearances in 2011 and 2013.
"I hope they learned that whatever they do that they do their best," Jones said. "Whether it's taking out the trash, studying for college, on the job or playing baseball, be all you can be."
Argyle 2, Pleasant Grove 1
Class 3A Region II Semifinal Playoff Series -- Game 3
At Northeast Texas Community College's Bob Baker Stadium, Mount Pleasant
Argyle 000 000 2 -- 2 4 2
Pleasant Grove 000 010 0 -- 1 5 1
Pitchers and catchers
- Argyle: Drew Gooch and Ryley Balch.
- Pleasant Grove: Jarod Bayless and Brooks Langdon.
WP -- Gooch.
LP -- Bayless.