Seven-Run Inning Helps Pleasant Grove Baseball Sweep Celina
TYLER -- Tyler Jeans got thrown into an interesting spot Saturday in Game 2 of Pleasant Grove's series sweep against Celina.
The Hawks' junior pinch hitter helped his club overcome a minor early game deficit with one swing of the bat and spearheaded a seven-run fourth inning in Pleasant Grove's 9-5 win in Game 2 of the Class 4A Region II semifinals round at Mike Carter Field.
"While I was up there, the ball got past the catcher and allowed our runners to move to second and third base," Jeans said. "I knew I just had to put it in play somewhere. Try to get those runners in and get us back into the game."
He got it done.
Things started well for the Hawks (26-4) before Jeans was thrust into the lineup.
Starting pitcher Joe Pearlman lined a shot right up the middle infield on the game's first pitch and A.J. Snyder bumped him along on the very next throw from Celina pitcher Daniel Staggs with a sacrifice bunt.
Heath Ferguson took the third pitch of the game to right field, where the fielder misplayed it. That advanced Pearlman to third base.
Carson Cox's sacrifice fly gave Pleasant Grove a 1-0 lead three pitches later.
Celina (26-7-1) answered in the bottom of the second and third innings.
After the Hawks misplayed a ball that could have been converted into a double play with one out already recorded in the frame, Celina's eight and nine-hole hitters, Kyle Strickland and Jeremy Holliday, knocked in runs with the bases loaded on a hit and fielder's choice away from the plate for a 2-1 advantage.
Celina shortstop Cooper Harris doubled to lead off the third inning. He rolled to third and then home through the next two at-bats, scoring on Scott Clark's deep fly ball to center.
Hawks skipper Riley Fincher saw an opportunity to claw back into the game in the fourth after leadoff hitter Mark Ashby walked to end a seven-pitch battle and second baseman Jacob Smith followed it up with a ground ball through the left gap.
Fincher pegged Jeans to pinch hit for Connor Oulette at the eighth spot in the rotation following shortstop Caleb Bolen's bunt foul for strike three.
"Just in practice every day, Tyler puts together good swings," Fincher said. "We felt like their pitcher was coming into the strike zone and their infield was in. We felt like he was going to go up early in the count and be aggressive. He actually took a lot of pitches, but he grinded it out and produced for us in the end."
Pleasant Grove's two base runners advanced to second and third base on a ball in the dirt during Jeans' sole at-bat of the game. Then Jeans lined a shot through the middle of the infield to score Ashby and Smith, which tied the game at 3-all.
Jeans advanced to second base on the center fielder's throw to the plate and was substituted out by Ouellette. VaShon Williams came up and laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Oulette to third base.
Back at the top of the order with two outs in the fourth, Pearlman drove a ball through the middle infield a second time and scored Ouellette for a 4-3 Pleasant Grove advantage.
Snyder followed Pearlman up with a hit and Heath Ferguson walked to load the bases. That marked the end of Staggs' day on the mound.
Celina pitcher Trace Young came into the game against Cox and walked him to force in a run.
Ashby, at the plate a second time in the inning, hit a 3-RBI double for an 8-1 lead before Smith flew out to in the inning.
In total, Celina gave up seven runs to 11 batters on 46 pitches through the top of the fourth.
Cameron Staggs hit a bases loaded single in the bottom fourth and Cooper Harris drew a walk on a 3-1 count against Pleasant Grove relief pitcher Will Hlavinka in his first sequence of the game to cut Celina's deficit to 8-5.
Cox grounded into a fielder's choice at third base in the sixth with two men on base, but a fielding error at first base allowed a runner to come home for the game's final score.
Pearlman allowed five earned runs on six hits through 4 1/3 innings toward the win. Ray allowed two walks and no hits in his 2 2/3 innings of relief.
"It's a testament to the players and kids we have here," Fincher said. "The support of the parents, you look around at all the people here on a Saturday afternoon. But it all goes back to the kids and all the hard work they put into it in offseason, practice and the weightroom. We're definitely excited about the opportunity to have an extra week, but we also understand it's not over."
Pleasant Grove will face Argyle in the regional championship series round. The winner of the regional championship series will advance to the four-team state tournament in Round Rock.
Argyle run-ruled Paris North Lamar, 12-1, in Game 2 for a series sweep of its own.
The Hawks and Argyle are familiar.
Argyle knocked Pleasant Grove out of the postseason in 2014 in three games and once again last year in a two-game sweep.
"Any time anybody is playing this late in the playoffs in Texas, you're obviously a great program," Fincher said. "We're playing at a high level right now, so we'll enjoy this one tonight and come back to work Monday."
Pleasant Grove 9, Celina 5
Class 4A Region II Regional Semifinals, Game 2
At Mike Carter Field, Tyler
Pleasant Grove 100 701 0 -- 9 11 1
Celina 021 200 0 -- 5 7 2
Pitchers and catchers
- Pleasant Grove: Joe Pearlman, Will Hlavinka (4) and Mark Ashby
- Celina: Daniel Staggs, Trace Young (4), Nathan Brinkley (6) and Scott Clark
WP -- Pearlman
LP -- Staggs
- Pleasant Grove: Ashby
- Celina: Cooper Harris