Bryce Cundieff’s No-Hit Bid Helps Whitehouse Past Corsicana In Standings Race
WHITEHOUSE -- It still would be easy for Whitehouse to lay an egg down the stretch and escape the backlash.
Most teams that return a roster full of players with state tournament experience are shouldered with their communities' expectations for a return trip. The Wildcats, on the other hand, have a nuclear trump card in their pocket should they stumble before reaching Round Rock for a second consecutive season.
Senior ace Ryan Walls was supposed to lead the 2017 squad back to the state's final four. He isn't available due to a preseason injury and probably won't throw in a game until next season as a Tyler Junior College Apache.
But this Whitehouse club just won't take the bait.
A 5-3 win Tuesday against Corsicana broke down what was a three-team tie for first place in District 17-5A to just a tie between the Wildcats and Lindale. Starting pitcher Bryce Cundieff took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning.
"We talked after everything happened with (Walls)," Whitehouse coach Derrick Jenkins said after the victory. "'Somebody's got to step up because we're going to hear all year, if we don't play well, that you lost Ryan and (Landry Mayo). You lost those guys.'
"We talk so much about, when we lose a guy, just kind of replacing a guy. I feel like Cundieff has kind of done those things, jumped in and has taken that role."
Of course, the Wildcats (18-5-1, 6-1) still have catcher Fiver Trimble at the other end of the battery. He batted 1 for 3, his hit a sixth-inning double through the middle infield to score Tanner Roach and Mason House to complete a three-spot frame.
A House double just ahead of Trimble's at-bat plated Skyler Trevino to break a 2-2 score with Corsicana (16-6-1, 5-2) that had existed since the end of the bottom third.
Cundieff allowed three walks and hit a fourth batter, endured an error and gave up two runs in the first three innings toward a pitch count of 60 before finding his stride. He pitched perfect fourth, fifth and sixth frames and entered the seventh at 93 pitches, which meant he had 17 throws left before the umpires gave him the hook at the new 110-pitch limit.
It looked like Cundieff would beat the count and hang onto his no-hitter when he induced a pop foul for Trimble against Corsicana's six-hole batter, but he walked the next man ahead of eight-hole hitter Juan Lopez breaking up the no-no.
A walk issued to Landon Pritchett at the very bottom of the order on pitch No. 110 loaded the bases.
"I was more concerned with the win," Cundieff said. "I was a little worried I was cutting it close and wasn't going to think about the no-hitter until it happened. I could honestly not care less about the no-hitter. This was a big game."
First baseman Patty Miner got summoned for a save attempt and gave up a single at the top of the order, but he recovered with a force out at the plate and a game-ending strikeout looking on a fastball in the mid 80s.
The win kept Corsicana in search of retribution for last season's regional quarterfinal loss to Whitehouse. Corsicana had won both district meetings with the Wildcats and lost in a one-gamer at home.
"It was definitely fresh in their minds," Miner said. "They came in here strutting and were just waiting for that chance to get back at us for last year. I don't blame them. A loss like that hurts. They came out tough. Tough game all the way through. Luckily, we grabbed the momentum in the later innings."
A district quirk, Corsicana will get a second shot Friday at its own place and could reassert itself as one of three district championship contenders.
The league plays home-and-home, two-game series against each other rather than playing a round-robin format.
"We kind of looked at it this way, you see guys throwing their No. 2 (pitchers) that never get to see a quality opponent," Jenkins said. "You're not really ready for the playoffs every time. We kind of talked about it, the way we're doing it, hopefully the best team wins district and your No. 2 is ready to go. You get in the playoffs and you know what you're supposed to do."
Whitehouse 5, Corsicana 3
At Whitehouse Athletic Complex
Corsicana 011 000 1 -- 3 2 0
Whitehouse 011 003 X -- 5 7 1
Pitchers and catchers
- Corsicana: Colten Davis, Micah Burke (2), Eric Maler (6) and Dawson Woods
- Whitehouse: Bryce Cundieff, Patty Miner (7) and Fiver Trimble
WP -- Cundieff
LP -- Burke
S -- Miner
Whitehouse: Trimble, Mason House, Brandon Rossiter, Brandon Quarles