Spring Hill Takes District 16-3A Lead With 8-6 Win Over Gilmer
GILMER -- It just doesn't feel like important baseball in Texas until Old Man Winter makes one final stand in mid-April.
With the dash for the playoffs and seeding officially ushered in with temperatures returning to the mid-40s at Matt Campbell Ballpark, Spring Hill withstood a gutsy comeback attempt from Gilmer and took control of District 16-3A.
"We set goals early on," Panthers' skipper Joel Windham said. "Last year, we fell short of the district championship. We set goals early on this year to work around some of the losses that we had and tried to incorporate some new things with the hope that by the time we got to district play that we would be stronger that where we were last year. I think it's starting to come together a little bit."
Spring Hill's win propelled the Panthers to an 8-3 district record which is the best in 16-3A. Gilmer has a game in hand and a 7-3 record, second-best in the district, but the Spring Hill won the first meeting between the two teams in Longview.
That means the Panthers now hold the tiebreaker if both teams win the remainder of their games. Spring Hill has one game left while Gilmer has two more district contests.
Kilgore lost to Chapel Hill, 4-3, and now sits in third-place with a 6-4 record with two more league games to play.
"Nothing is for sure in this district," Windham said. "But we're happy with where we are and (Gilmer) is for dang sure not going to let us slip up. If we do, they're going to be on our heels again."
Spring Hill (13-9-2) tripled, doubled and consistently strung hits together against the Buckeyes (18-6) through the game's early portions.
But as twilight gave to dusk and the last remnants of any warmth escaped the field, Gilmer showed it wasn't going to give up the tiebraker without a fight. The Buckeyes had not lost their composure.
Then their chance came.
Hands went numb and pitching control became an issue for both sides. Panther starter Parker White was nearing 100 pitches entering the bottom fifth, and Gilmer's Mitch Lange got a leadoff double to start a rough stretch for Spring Hill.
Lange moved to third on a balk the next at-bat and then was batted in by a Bryce Tomlin base hit. The score cut the deficit to 7-3. Tomlin then stole second base and reached third on sacrifice fly from Colin Harden.
That was the end of White's night on the mound. He finished with 101 pitches, seven strikeouts, a walk, a hit batter and six hits allowed with solid fielding behind him.
Eli Reagh took the bump in relief.
Nathan Jenkins played into a fielder's choice at first base to score Tomlin before Reagh stopped that particular portion of the comeback attempt.
The Panthers went scoreless in the top of the sixth despite two base hits.
The Buckeyes, now with all the momentum, quickly returned to the plate and got back-to-back singles from Cameron Bowman and Jaidon Parrish. Bowman reached third on Parrish's hit and came home on a balk. Blevin Burns' deep fly ball to center scored Bowman to cut the cut Spring Hill's lead to 7-6.
The Panthers rallied for one run in the final inning when senior center fielder Jake Ferrill batted in Trevor Martin who was courtesy running after Logan Nichols' base hit.
Ferrill hit 2-for-3 in the game and reached base a third time on one of the Buckeyes' two errors.
Reagh closed the game by knocking down Gilmer in final frame.
"The win means a lot to us," Ferrill said. "We've practiced real hard to win this and hopefully win the district. It'd mean a lot to us because we have six seniors that have put a lot into it."
Spring Hill 8, Gilmer 6
District 16-3A Baseball
Spring Hill 040 210 1 -- 8 13 1
Gilmer 002 022 0 -- 6 9 2
Pitchers and catchers
- Spring Hill: Parker White, Eli Reagh (5) and Cameron Copeland.
- Gilmer: Bryce Tomlin, Colin Hardin (4) and Jaidon Parrish.
WP -- White.
LP -- Tomlin.
- Spring Hill: Josh Guarisco (2).
- Gilmer: Mitch Lange.
- Spring Hill: Jake Ferrill, Hagen Tucker.