Long Inning Costs Groveton In State Semifinal Game
ROUND ROCK -- The winning coach of this Class 2A state baseball tournament will undoubtedly admit a little luck was involved somewhere along the postseason ride. Whether it was a dramatic late-inning comeback or just getting that one call to change a team's spirits, something happened.
Dallardsville Big Sandy got off to a slow start Wednesday, but a judgement call to spearhead a five-run fourth inning gave it momentum it never relinquished against Groveton in the state semifinal round, 7-3.
The Indians' season came to a close at Dell Diamond in Round Rock with a final record of 31-4. It was just their second loss of the postseason, preceded by second-day wins to get them by Woden in a best-of-three regional championship round.
There weren't many breaks that went Groveton's way this time.
"It still feels great to be here," first-year skipper Wayne Williams said. "I told these kids that for a while we've been a football school. I said, 'Listen, we can do this in baseball also. If we put our best foot forward, we'll get there.'"
Saul Chavez slid and sommersaulted through the plate in the game's bottom third inning to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. A sizable lead considering senior ace Glenn Thornton was on the mound.
Thornton got through the first three frames pitching a one-hit shutout. Then it turned ugly.
Big Sandy (34-2) -- which advanced to play Muenster in the 2A championship game Thursday -- rather quickly turned the table. All five of its runs reached base after the first out of the frame.
Getting those final two outs was like pulling teeth for Groveton.
Broch Holmes drew a full-count walk to become Big Sandy's third runner of the contest. Three pitches later, Kiley Cox got him home to make it a 2-1 affair.
But how that happened will be the grumbling around Groveton gatherings for eons.
Chavez, the center fielder, lost the ball to the jet stream. It flew over him and landed for a hit.
Chavez recovered as Holmes prepared to turn from third base to home, bypassed Cox advancing to second and laced a throw to catcher Anthony Chavez. The catcher threw down a tag attempt, Groveton celebrated and the home plate umpire threw out the safe sign in favor of Big Sandy.
It was close. And, since there is no replay review in high school ball, it was permanent.
"I believe we threw the guy out, and I believe it was a game changer," Williams said. "After that, they rattled off three hits in a row. But I did tell my assistant coach, that if any team can get three or four hits in one inning against a No. 1 pitcher, then they're a good team."
The three hits after the close call yielded two more runs, which put Big Sandy ahead by a score of 3-2 with runners still on first and second base.
After Bryce Holmes walked on a 3-1 count to load the bases and after Bryan Duff popped out for just the second out of what had become an eight at-bat inning, Austin Hendrix drove the ball to right field and scored two more runs.
Bryce Holmes and Hendrix both got RBI credit in the sixth frame for a 7-2 lead.
In the interim time, Groveton lost two of three close judgement calls on the bases toward six total base runners.
Spencer Pope scored for Groveton with two outs in the seventh. The season ended the next at-bat.
It appeared for a while the story might be the Indians won a state semifinal game in which they were held to one hit through half the game.
Pope started the third inning by taking a pitch to the helmet. The score changed the next pitch on a weakly hit chopper by Saul Chavez and a three-base throwing error.
Chance Coker's sacrifice fly plated the sliding and sommersaulting Saul Chavez for the ill-fated two-run lead.
Eight Groveton seniors have already graduated and played their final game. Five of them started.
"This was my first year," Williams said. "Next year, we've got some more stuff to implement to our offense. Defensively, you saw we played well. We didn't make any errors, and that's one thing I'm proud of. You run into a team like them, though, it's a little bit different. But I'm just proud of Groveton and plan to be there for a long time."
Dallardsville Big Sandy 7, Groveton 3
Class 2A State Semifinal
At Dell Diamond, Round Rock
Groveton 002 000 1 — 3 4 0
Big Sandy 000 502 X — 7 9 3
Pitchers and catchers
- Groveton: Glenn Thornton, Terry Haden (6) and Anthony Chavez
- Big Sandy: Austin Hendrix and Bryce Holmes
WP — Hendrix
LP — Thornton
Groveton: Cody Fairchild
Big Sandy: Holmes