Whitehouse Edges Hallsville to Take Game 1 of Their 4A Regional Quarterfinal Series
TYLER -- It appeared as if wildness on the mound would be Whitehouse's undoing Friday night, but it ended up being its saving grace.
Michael Nuon scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the top of the seventh inning, leading the Wildcats to a 7-6 win over Hallsville in Game 1 of their Class 4A Region II quarterfinal playoff series in front of 1,296 fans at Mike Carter Field.
Game 2 of the series is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday back in Tyler. A third game, if needed, would follow.
The eventual game-winning run for Whitehouse (26-8) came after Hallsville (28-6) took a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the sixth thanks in part to consecutive bases-loaded walks.
"When we came back and in, I talked to the guys and I said, 'we've gotta get one. I don't care how we do it. We gotta find a way to get on,'" said Whitehouse coach Derrick Jenkins.
Ryan Cheatham began the seventh with single to center field, which chased Bobcats starter Austin Blakeley from the game. Ronnie Gideon came on in relief and hit Nuon with his first of the inning to put runners at first and second.
Eric Munoz then popped up his bunt attempt and Gideon made a diving catch in front of the mound. But when Gideon turned to throw back to first base for the double play, the ball skipped by, allowing both runners to move up.
Aaron Clemons followed with a game-tying sac fly to left to score courtesy runner Brennan McDaniel, which preceded Nuon's dash for home on the wild pitch.
Hallsville put two runners on with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Nuon induced Macailyn Wilder into a game-ending groundout to third.
Nuon, who relieved starter Patrick Mahomes with one out in the sixth, got the win. He allowed two hits, walked one and struck out one.
"Nuon's a guy we've saved all year long," Jenkins said. "We didn't throw him, he's got his knee (torn ACL). But we knew in the playoffs, he was a guy that was gonna come in and throw strikes. He's a contrast from Mahomes and Cheatham, and we saved him all year for this point right here ... so he could come in and do the things that he's doing right now."
Mahomes struggled with wildness with seven walks and one hit batsmen. He allowed six runs on only four hits and struck out four. His consecutive bases-loaded walks to Wilder and Jacob Walker in the sixth tied the game, 5-5.
Cole Anderson greeted Nuon with an RBI single to right that gave Hallsville the one-run lead heading into the seventh.
"I couldn't ask for anything more," Hallsville coach Scott Mitchell said. "We came out and we competed, we played as hard as we possibly can. In a ballgame like this, I made the comment that when you give something away it will hurt. If you make an error or walk or when you hit somebody, in a tight ballgame like this it's going to be the difference. They gave us runs, and we ended up giving it back to them. We'll come back ready to play two tomorrow, and we'll come back and compete again just like we did tonight."
Nuon reached base three times and scored twice, Clemons drove in three runs and Munoz went 2-for-4 with two RBIs to lead Whitehouse at the plate.
"(Munoz) has squared the ball up the whole playoffs," Jenkins said. "We moved him to the No. 2 hole about two or three weeks ago, and we moved him there knowing he was that kind of hitter. He's a young guy but he's got a great swing and he sees pitches, you'll have a hard time striking him out. We knew those were going to come, we're just pumped they came today."
Walker and Anderson each had two hits and an RBI to spark Hallsville.
Blakeley, a sophomore starting in place of staff ace Connor Reich who is out with a knee injury, allowed six runs on six hits in six-plus innings. He struck out three and walked two, and retired the first six batters he faced.
"A super effort from a sophomore," Mitchell said. "He hadn't thrown in quite a while, and for him to come out and give the performance he gave us tonight and compete like he did and give us a chance against a great ballclub, I couldn't ask for anything more. I was really proud of the way he pitched tonight."
Jake Parker got Whitehouse's four-run third started with a single to left. After two outs, Nuon drew a walk before the Wildcats got three consecutive hits to build a 4-0 lead. Munoz drove in Parker with a bloop single to right, Clemons' single to left-center scored Nuon and Munoz and Mahomes' RBI single scored Clemons.
Hallsville got on the board in the bottom of the third on Gideon's sac fly to left, and got within one with two runs in the fourth. Blakeley and Andy Guinea drew leadoff walks, and eventually came around to score on a groundout by Coby Weaver and a sac fly from Justus Fulton.
Whitehouse went up 5-3 in the fifth on Munoz's RBI single that scored Cheatham, who was hit by a pitch with one out.
Cheatham (11-0) will get the ball in Game 2 for Whitehouse, and will likely oppose Hallsville's sophomore lefty Weaver (9-1).
"I know he throws the ball well, he'll keep you off balance and do some good things," Jenkins said of Weaver. "We've got to be patient at the plate and hit the ball where it's supposed to be hit. And hopefully we'll get some runs up and Cheatham will be on tomorrow."
Whitehouse 7, Hallsville 6
Class 4A Region II Quarterfinal
Mike Carter Field, Tyler
Whitehouse 004 010 2 -- 7 7 1
Hallsville 001 203 0 -- 6 6 2
Whitehouse: Patrick Mahomes, Michael Nuon (6) and Derek Clemons. Hallsville: Austin Blakeley, Ronnie Gideon (7) and Colton Oberthier.
WP -- Nuon.
LP -- Gideon.
Records -- Whitehouse: 26-8. Hallsville: 28-6.