Defense Lifts Whitehouse Baseball To Series Sweep Of Wylie
TYLER -- Whitehouse survived Wylie's seventh inning comeback attempt and held on for a 3-2 Game 2 win as well as a Class 5A Region II semifinal series sweep Friday at Mike Carter Field.
The Wildcats' defense held 10 of 12 Wylie base runners off the board through the contest and did not cede any runs before recording the second out of the seventh inning.
"Those are things you have to do at this point," an on-alert Whitehouse head coach Derrick Jenkins said while swiveling around to see if he was going to get a Gatorade shower. "You have to get a little bit of luck and things have to go your way, but sometimes you have to create that stuff just by being full speed start to finish."
Just like Thursday's Game 1 contest in Dallas, it got interesting late after the East Texas team asserted itself in earlier innings.
Wylie (29-4-1) placed its 10th and 11th runners of the night on the bags ahead of Whitehouse (23-10) getting the second out in the top of the seventh. Nick Dayton, who had been intentionally walked his first two times at the plate, doubled to center field to get those runners home.
That was as close as Wylie got to drawing even from giving up two runs in the bottom of the fifth and a run in the sixth.
Wildcats catcher Connor Clark fielded a weakly hit chopper three pitches later and fed Patty Miner at first base for the win.
It only took 59 minutes to get through five and a half innings. Whitehouse got desperate in the span, went for a double steal with runners at first and second base, and Wylie caught the lead runner for the bottom fourth's second out.
Wylie bent in its defensive share of the fifth after getting the first out on five pitches.
Starting pitcher Ryan Walls lined through the left gap on the next pitch and designated hitter Fiver Trimble drew a four-pitch walk. They were the fourth and fifth runners of the night for the Wildcats against Wylie pitcher Peyton Graham.
Nine-hole hitter Landry Mayo grounded to third base for the second out of the fifth, but he reached safely on the fielder's choice. Clayton Pruitt dropped a ball into left-center field one pitch later to plate Trimble.
An ill-advised and off-target throw from center field allowed Mayo home in the same sequence. Mayo edged catcher Andrew Spencer at the plate after Wylie recovered.
"My first two at-bats, I didn't do anything," Pruitt said. "I knew I was due, so I just tried to put the ball in play. I was thinking curveball first pitch and he threw it. I just hit it over the shortstop's head. Worked good."
Whitehouse center fielder Mason House hit a one-out triple 360 feet to straightaway center field in the sixth. A line drive from Miner between the third baseman and shortstop scored House before Wylie mounted its second notable comeback effort in two days.
The Wildcats made most of the back half look easy after being no-hit through 2 2/3 innings. It wasn't easy to build a 3-0 lead into the seventh.
Wylie loaded the bases with one out in the first inning. Walls got out of the jam with a strikeout and by inducing a fly ball for House.
Wylie had runners at first and second base in the third with two outs. Shortstop Tanner Roach ran down a line drive that went through the left gap and began curving away from him in shallow left-center field.
In the fourth, Wylie again put runners at first and second base and, this time, had two outs to work with. Second baseman Jonathan Reyes dug a ground ball out and started a 4-6-3 double play.
Whitehouse also got out of a minor jam in the fifth. Wylie placed runners at first and second base again before grounding out to Walls on the mound for the third out.
Walls pitched a perfect sixth inning, his second one-two-three frame, toward a complete game win. In total, he allowed six hits and four unintentional walks in his first start since throwing a two-hit shutout against Corsicana last week.
"I feel like we focus on defense a lot in practice," Roach said. "Once we get into the game, it just kind of feels more natural than it does to some teams. We're on a hot streak, so we're just going to try to keep it going."
Are the Wildcats -- the fourth and final team that qualified for the postseason out of District 16-5A -- on a hot streak? Are they just good?
Friday's win was the final nail in the coffin for the third district championship team Whitehouse has faced in the postseason through four rounds.
There are no more first-place seeds within Region II.
Lufkin, the Wildcats' district rival and the league's runner-up, has the high ground in its series against Mesquite Poteet on the other side of the regional bracket. Lufkin can claim the series Saturday in Game 2 following a 6-0 win versus Poteet on Thursday, or it can advance in the rubber game if it's necessary.
A single Lufkin win would set up an All-East Texas showdown. It also would ensure the region representation in the Class 5A state tournament for the first time since Hallsville reached in 2014.
"We started the year with expectations," Jenkins said. "People thought we'd be pretty good. We kind of struggled early. I think they finally looked up and said, 'We want to prove some people wrong.' Everybody talked about the fourth seed. Nobody thought we could beat Texas High. Went to Corsicana at their place, nobody thought we could beat those guys there.
"I think they're just trying to prove people wrong every day."
Whitehouse 3, Wylie 2
Class 5A Region II Regional Semifinals, Game 1
At Mike Carter Field, Tyler
Wylie 000 000 2 -- 2 6 3
Whitehouse 000 021 X -- 3 6 0
Pitchers and catchers
- Wylie: Peyton Graham, J.D. Suarez (6) and Andrew Spencer
- Whitehouse: Ryan Walls and Connor Clark
WP -- Walls
LP -- Graham
- Wylie: Nick Dayton
- Whitehouse: Mason House