PLANO -- Van's best baseball season in school history came to a close Friday with back-to-back losses against Argyle in the Class 4A Region II semifinals.

There was not much disappointment after the game. In fact, Cardinal Field at John Paul II High School was the place to be as the Vandals athletic program capped a solid 2014-2015 school year.

Less than 10 minutes after striking out to end his career, center fielder Jacob Tobias and four other seniors put on their caps and gowns and 'walked the plate' rather than the stage. With Argyle cheering on from its dugout.

"I wouldn't want it any other way," Tobias said. "I was with my friends and we've been playing ball since we were four years old. Being able to graduate with them on a baseball field was the best feeling."

Jacob Tobias batted 3-for-7 through Van's two playoff games Friday at John Paul II High School. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Van's seniors were supposed to graduate with their classmates in the school's ceremony Friday. Unfortunately, but certainly not surprising by this point, weather thwarted that idea.

The plan up until late Thursday evening was to resume Thursday's suspended Game 1 at the Lindale ISD Baseball Complex and then play the remainder of the series Saturday. Things changed, and the Vandals opted to sacrifice the big ceremony to get two games Friday in Plano.

The suspended game, a 0-0 tie through one and a half innings, ended in a 2-1 walk-off loss. Argyle's Rixey Boyd hit a two-out, bases-loaded fly ball to center field. Two feet from a diving Tobias.

Van (21-8) put the tying man at the plate in the bottom seventh, but it fell 5-1 in Game 2.

The best season ever ended to last year's Class 3A state runner-up.

"We felt like like, coming in, we were as good as they were," Vandals skipper Jerami Hawkins said. "We felt like our pitching staff could match up with their guys and we felt like our order could hit as well as they could. We just couldn't get timely hits, and that's been the key for us all year. We got hits with two outs and guys in scoring position, but we just couldn't do it today."

Argyle (26-7) struggled for any breathing room in the series' opening game. It stranded runners at third base in the first and second innings before Hunter Markwardt broke through in the top fourth with a bases-loaded hit through the left infield gap.

Tobias helped the Vandals respond in the next frame. His grounder up the middle plated Brett Doring.

Garrett Walker held the tie through the sixth but allowed a leadoff single to Argyle's Tanner Boyzuick in the bottom seventh. Boyzuick came home for the game-winning run against relief pitcher Robbie Davis, who recorded two outs in the inning.

Things unraveled for Van, which already trailed 1-0, in the fourth inning of Game 2. The team gave up three runs to go down 4-0.

Argyle added a final run in the top of the seventh.

Jacoby Bogue hit a leadoff triple for the Vandals in their final frame and was batted in with one out by Jax Tobias. Brett Doring and Cooper Bledsoe joined Jax Tobias on the base paths before Argyle got its series-clinching out.

"They are so good," Jacob Tobias said. "I have so much respect for them. They never said anything bad to us. They were always lifting us up. Just having them stay there cheering for us when we graduated, they're a great group of kids. I know they're going to do good in the next round because they're a great team."

Garin Shelton fanned four Argyle batters while scattering seven hits in his final high school game. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Hawkins began investigating his team's success earlier in the season. He found two teams from the 1950s which had won "zone championships," back when baseball was only played up to a regional level of competition.

Since the sport upped its postseason to an organized state-wide event, Van had never advanced to the fourth round.

"Probably the highlight of the whole thing was the way our kids acted and responded after the tornado hit," the head coach said. "They had every excuse in the world to get beat in the second round like we've done since 1999."

Hawkins expects to return five starters next year. The future three-man pitching rotation also received some varsity experience.

"Like I told them, 'We've set the bar,'" Hawkins said. "'You have to play at a high level outside of our season if you want to beat the Argyles and Pleasant Groves.' You've got to play outside of your season and play against the best players. All of those guys do.

"The table is set. We've just got to build on this."

In the meantime, the Vandals said goodbye to five key contributors.

Jacob Tobias, Walker, Christian Cole, Cole Newsom and Garin Shelton ended their careers as part of the best yet.

"It was shocking, I'm not going to lie," Jacob Tobias said. "It was a great feeling. We worked so hard to get to this point and into the fourth round. It's a great feeling."

Christian Cole puts National Honor Society sach over his baseball jersey and gown to celebrate graduation with Van's four other seniors. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Class 4A Region II Semifinals

Game 1 -- At Cardinal Field, Plano

Argyle 2, Van 1

Van                000    010    0    --    1    7    0
Argyle            000    100    1    --     2    8    0

Pitchers and catchers
  • Van: Garrett Walker, Robbie Davis (7) and Brett Doring
  • Argyle: Rixey Boyd and Ryley Balch

 

  • WP -- Boyd
  • LP -- Walker

 

Doubles
  • Argyle: Danny-David Linahan

 

Triples
  • Argyle: Cutter McDonald

 

 

Class 4A Region II Semifinals

Game 2 -- At Cardinal Field, Plano

Argyle 5, Van 1

Argyle          001    300    1    --    5    7    0
Van             000    000     1    --    1    7    2

Pitchers and catchers
  • Argyle: Connor Mushinski and Ryley Balch
  • Van: Garin Shelton and Brett Doring

 

  • WP -- Mushinski
  • LP -- Shelton

 

Doubles
  • Argyle: Seth Green

 

Triples
  • Van: Jacoby Bogue
Van's seniors celebrate receiving their high school diplomas at Cardinal Field in Plano. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)