Rough Start Dooms Whitehouse in 7-0 Semifinal Loss to Grapevine
ROUND ROCK -- Last weekend, the Whitehouse Wildcats became the first district fourth-place finisher to reach the UIL state baseball tournament.
But a rough opening inning in Thursday's Class 5A semifinal was too much for them to overcome.
Whitehouse had a runner thrown out at home and was called for an inning-ending runner's interference in the top of the first, then committed four errors that led to five runs in the bottom half in a 7-0 loss to Grapevine before 1,459 fans at Dell Diamond.
"I think it started with the guy getting thrown out at home early," Whitehouse coach Derrick Jenkins said. "The momentum kinda switched in a hurry and it kinda snow-balled a little bit. We left a lot of guys on early and could never come back. You give up five in the first at this point against a good team, things happen."
Grapevine (34-6-2) will meet either College Station or San Antonio Alamo Heights at 7 p.m. Friday for the state title.
The Wildcats (25-12) were trying to reach their first championship game after falling in the 2013 semifinals.
"Any time you get a chance to end your season here, whether it's a win or a loss, it's awesome," Jenkins said.
It was hard for Jenkins to be too upset following Thursday's game, considering his team wondered if they would even qualify for the playoffs midway through the District 16-5A season.
"The ride that we've had -- from (Texas High) to Ennis to beating two district rivals to get a chance to be here with only two seniors ... I got a lot of young guys I'm hopeful will be hungry after this right here," he said.
Grapevine lefty Kyle Flamm (9-1) allowed just five Whitehouse singles in seven shutout innings. He struck out two and walk two, throwing 104 pitches.
"We talked before the game got going, 'you've got to hit the ball the other way,' and today we didn't do that," Jenkins said. "We tried to pull everything and didn't get on top at the plate and hit the ball where it's supposed to be (hit)."
Whitehouse went on the offensive in the top of the first. Clayton Pruitt reached on a throwing error, and then moved to second on a single to left by Connor Clark. Tanner Roach then looped a shallow single to right fielder James Wyche, who gunned down Pruitt at the plate for the first out.
Mason House then hit a grounder to second, and Roach was forced out. House was initially ruled safe on the play, but the umpire eventually determined that Roach interfered with Grapevine shortstop Ty Jones, causing House to be called out.
The bottom of the first was even worse for Whitehouse.
Grapevine put the first three runners on with a single, hit by pitch and bunt single. Tanner Gibson's grounder then scooted under the glove of the Whitehouse third baseman, and then was misplayed in left field, which allowed three Mustangs to cross home plate.
Ryan Drake connected on a two-out RBI single before Jospeh Leal, who reached on an error, scored when a throw from the Whitehouse catcher on a stolen base attempt ended up in center field.
Whitehouse starting pitcher Ryan Walls (8-3), who pitched four complete games in the postseason, lasted just two-thirds of an inning. Three of the five runs he allowed were unearned. Landry Mayo allowed two runs on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks in 5 1/3 innings of relief.
"I guess we just didn't walk in ready for what was fixing to happen," Jenkins said of the first inning. "Nerves are kind of a crazy thing, you're going to have those every series. I just think things didn't go our way."
Connor Neuman scored on a wild pitch in the fourth, and Leal delivered an RBI single in the Grapevine sixth.
Mayo was the only senior in Whitehouse's starting lineup, which Jenkins hopes leads to big things in the future.
"What I hope kinda happens from Day 1 is to have a season where you start (strong) and don't have such a gruesome schedule to get to the state tournament," he said. "I feel like this year we didn't start from Day 1; it took us a while to get to where we needed to be a good baseball team."
But the 2016 Wildcats will always hold a special place for Jenkins.
"I've been to the state tournament four times, and this is probably the funnest ride I've had in the playoffs," he said. "The excitement we've had, the fun we've had; things happened in practice, in games, on bus rides. This ride right here, with so many ups and downs that we've had, you'll never forget it."
Grapevine 7, Whitehouse 0
Class 5A State Semifinal
At Dell Diamond, Round Rock
Whitehouse 000 000 0 -- 0 5 4
Grapevine 500 101 x -- 7 10 2
Pitchers and catchers
- Whitehouse: Ryan Walls, Landry Mayo (1) and Connor Clark
- Grapevine: Kyle Flamm and Tanner Gibson
WP -- Flamm (9-1)
LP -- Walls (8-3)