Spring Hill Wins Twice Saturday to Eliminate District Rival Gilmer + Advance to Regional Semifinals
LONGVIEW — It seems being on the brink of elimination brings out the best in the Spring Hill Panthers.
Down to its last game, Spring Hill defeated District 16-3A foe Gilmer 9-3 in a pivotal Game 3 of their Class 3A Region II quarterfinal series at Pine Tree’s Field of Dreams on Saturday.
Spring Hill (18-13) moved on to face Melissa in the regional semifinals at a time and place to be determined.
Spring Hill has played an elimination game in each of its three rounds in the playoffs. The Panthers knocked off Mineola in a one-game playoff in bi-district and beat Emory Rains twice in the area round after falling in the first game.
“The big thing I see from my kids today is the relentless effort, and the battle of attrition,” said Spring Hill coach Joel Windham. “We talked about who could stay focused the longest and these kids keep responding back when something negative happens. We’re fighters and scrappers, and I love that from our kids.”
Two sophomores for the Panthers stood out in first baseman Hagen Tucker and pitcher Parker White. Tucker went 4-for-4 with four RBI’s, while White pitched a complete game in the series’ deciding game.
“Our sophomores, all year long, have been uncanny about coming through and doing things that you’re not expecting them to do,” Windham said. “(White) is another one. That’s two weekends in a row where he’s come in Game 3 and pitched like he’s a No. 1, when he’s really a No. 3 or No. 4 at the beginning of the season. He’s put in the time and dedication to work on those things to get better and it’s paying off big time.”
After Gilmer’s Skylar Hollis’ RBI single scored Jaidon Parrish in the top of the third, Spring Hill countered with five runs in the next half inning in the most unorthodox fashion. Five batters were hit by a pitch, including two with the bases loaded, two Gilmer errors and one Tucker single plated five runs to give Spring Hill a 5-1 lead.
Spring Hill added four more in the next inning, thanks to a Matt Williams RBI single, a Josh Guarisco RBI groundout and a two-run double from Tucker.
“We were down last night, our feelings were a little hurt,” Windham said. “I told the kids, ‘all year long I’ve been telling y’all when somebody gets hurt or something like that, we’ve got to pick somebody up. It was my fault this week. I’m the one that’s down right now. I’m the one losing the positive mentality. For eight hours today, I need ya’ll to pick me up.’ And they did.”
In Game 2 earlier in the day, Spring Hill extended the series by beating Gilmer 7-4 behind the solid play of Ben Hollas and Guarisco.
Hollas went 2-for-3 with an RBI and Guarisco had multiple RBI singles in the victory.
Spring Hill’s ace hurler Nathan Methvin went the distance on the mound, giving up four runs (three earned) with four strikeouts. Lane Nesbett added two hits, an RBI and some impressive defensive plays at third base.
It overshadowed an outstanding showing by Gilmer catcher Jaidon Parrish. The junior went 4-for-4 with an RBI, finishing a home run shy of the cycle.
Spring Hill wasted no time getting on the board with a Guarisco RBI single before Gilmer recorded an out in the first.
An inning later, seniors Hollas and Williams had consecutive RBI singles that gave Spring Hill a 3-0 lead.
Gilmer’s Blevin Burns’ two-run double kept the Buckeyes close in the top of the third, but errors, which doomed Gilmer all day, ultimately cost the Buckeyes when a Logan Nichols chopper back to pitcher Bryce Tomlin proved costly. Tomlin bobbled the ball, then overshot first baseman Mitch Lange. Two runs scored and Spring Hill had a 5-2 lead.
Nesbett’s glove wasn’t the only thing benefitial to the Panthers. A two-out RBI double in the fifth gave Spring Hill an insurance run, and that was followed by a Guarisco run-scoring single in the sixth to cap the Panthers’ scoring.
Next up for the Panthers is Melissa, a team that beat Agyle in a best-of-three series and a team Windham knows well.
“I got to watch Melissa last year in a warm-up game with Hughes Springs,” Windham said. “They are phenomenal. They are scrappy, they get after it and they hustle and they just do things right.”
Gilmer finished its season at 24-11.
“The foundation was laid before I got here,” said Gilmer coach Lonnie Henry. “But I think we’ve got great things ahead of us. We’ve just got to keep plugging away and be able to not shoot ourselves in the foot. We’re getting there. We had a great season and you can’t take anything away from Spring Hill. They played two great games today. It just wasn’t in the cards for us.”
Spring Hill 7, Gilmer 4
Class 3A Region II Quarterfinal
Pine Tree’s Field of Dreams, Longview
Gilmer 002 011 0 — 4 12 3
Spring Hill 120 211 x — 7 10 2
Gilmer: Bryce Tomlin and Jaidon Parrish. Spring Hill: Nathan Methvin and Cameron Copeland.
WP — Methvin.
LP — Tomlin.
2B — Gilmer: Parrish. Spring Hill: Lane Nesbett.
3B — Gilmer: Parrish.
Spring Hill 9, Gilmer 3
Gilmer 001 200 0 — 3 6 6
Spring Hill 005 400 x — 9 7 2
Gilmer: Skylar Hollis, Colton Hendrix and Jaidon Parrish. Spring Hill: Parker White and Cameron Copeland.
WP — White.
LP — Hollis.
2B — Gilmer: Parrish, Dylan Bowman, Slade Morris. Spring Hill: Hagen Tucker.
Records — Gilmer: 24-11. Spring Hill: 18-13.