For the second straight baseball season, the Thrall Tigers had its season ended at the hands of Shiner High School. The two teams played 14 innings over the weekend, and Shiner edged by in back-to-back games to move past the regional quarterfinal round of the state playoffs.
Tyler Patek, far left, is lifted in the air by Ky Sandelovic after scoring the go-ahead run in the Shiner baseball teamís 8-7 win over Thrall Friday in La Grange. Also joining in the celebration are Matt Pohler, center, Brady Cejka, second from right, and Blake Michalec, far right. Photo Courtesy of Harry Reese
After scoring the winning run in the top of the seventh inning Friday in La Grange to take a 8-7 victory in game one, the Comanches knocked off Thrall, Saturday, 3-2 behind a strong pitching performance from Zach Reese and timely hitting in the first inning.
Thrall came to the plate in the top of the first and pushed across a run when Lane Hobbs reached base on a two-out single to leftfield. Aaron Ferriola replaced Hobbs on the bases as a courtesy runner and scored the first run of the game on a RBI-single by Cody Carter.
"We knew we needed to come out and get a run or two in the first inning to give us some confidence after a tough loss the night before," Thrall head coach Jeff Doege said. "We got a guy on base with two outs and Cody had a clutch hit for us to give us a lead."
That lead did not last long, as Shiner scored three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Shiner loaded the bases on Hobbs with two walks and a hit batter. With one out, Donovan Mardis hit a two-run single to leftfield to score Brady Cejka and Reese. Late in the inning, Matt Pohler knocked in Mardis to give Shiner a 3-1 lead after an inning.
"At this time of the year, you just canít give good teams free bases with walks, hit batter or errors," Doege said. "We did all three of those in the first inning and it was the difference in the game."
"I tell our pitchers all the time that we have to make the other team earn every run," Shiner head coach Daniel Boedeker said. "We got the bases loaded with one out without getting a hit, but we had two guys come to the plate and make them pay for putting us on base. That was the key to the game."
Thrall cut into the lead in the second inning when Michael Ornelas knocked in Tyler Chandler, but 3-2 was as close as the Tigers could get in the game.
The two pitchers settled down, worked around trouble and shutout the opposing teams for the rest of the game.
"Lane did a great job after that first inning," Doege said of his ace. "He has had innings like he did in the first a few times this season, but he pitched like we knew he could the next six innings."
Hobbs pitched seven innings, giving up six hits, four walks and four earned runs. He struckout three Shiner batters in the loss.
For Shiner, Reese pitched a gem. He also pitched a complete game, giving up five hits, one earned run and a walk, while striking out five batters. From the second to the fifth inning, Reese set down nine Thrall batters in a row.
The Tigers managed to get two base runners on in the fifth and sixth innings, but could not push the runs across.
"Baseball comes down to who makes the most mistakes and which team can get the timely hits," Doege said. "We had our chances to take the lead in back-to-back innings, but just couldnít get that one hit to put us over the top. My hats off to Shiner, they are a great team."
With three outs left in the season, Thrall stepped to the plate in the top of the seventh inning, but Reese did not allow any suspense. He set down the Tigers in order to end the game, the series and move Shiner to the next round.
"Zach did a great job today of working around some trouble and keeping our lead secure," Boedeker said. "The next game is always the most important and we get to live and fight for another series. We have some things to work on, but we will enjoy this victory over the weekend and get back to work next week."
For Thrall, the loss hurts, but it was the end of a wildly surprising season. The Tigers repeated as district champions in district 26-1A after losing five starters from last yearís team and only fielding one senior on the roster.
"Iíve said it before, but I am more proud of this team than any other I have ever coached," Doege said. "We accomplished what no one thought we could this season and that includes playing a tough series with state-ranked Shiner. We will be back next season with a group of guys that are experienced and hungry and look forward to getting past this round and making a run towards state."