A first inning triple play helped settle down Johnson City’s Laramie Blackwell, and his one-hitter helped the Eagles to a 9-3 victory over the Shiner Comanches Thursday night at North East Stadium.
The Eagles are ranked sixth in the state in Class 1A by the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association, and three of the teams ahead of them have been eliminated since the poll was last updated May 12th.
Shiner threatened early against Blackwell (9-2) when the Eagle right- hander plunked Joey Gamez, then walked Wesley Patek on five pitches. However, Coy Boedeker smashed the next pitch to third baseman Dylan Carter. The runners ran with the pitch, believing Carter short-hopped the catch. Carter threw to second baseman Cody Crofts to double off Gamez, then Crofts relayed to first to triple off Patek.
Johnson City (29-5-1) then took the lead in the bottom of the first when Kris McDonald singled, stole second, then scored two outs later on a single to right by Carter.
Shiner (26-9) tied the game in the second when Donovan Mardis drew a one-out walk, went to second on a groundout, to third on passed ball, then scored when Gamez reached on an error.
The Eagles retook the lead by taking advantage of an injury situation. Shiner catcher Zach Reese broke his hand during the Thrall series in the region quarterfinals, forcing Comanche coach Daniel Boedeker to move Cuatro Rankin to catcher. Rankin has struggled since; twice an Eagle hitter reached first on a passed ball strike three, although neither player scored.
In the fourth, however, the Eagles broke through. Humphrey and Cody Smith walked to start the inning, then Ky Sandelovic (11-4) struck out Garrett Deleon. Strike three got away from Rankin, and the Shiner catcher appeared to forget that with less than two out and first base occupied, the batter is automatically out even when strike three isn’t caught on the fly. As Rankin motioned to throw to first, the runners each took a lead. Rankin adjusted and threw to third, with his throw sailing over Coy Boedeker’s head, allowing both Humphrey and Smith to score. After the error, Johnson City led 3-1.
Shiner tied the game in the fourth on back-to-back bases-loaded walks issued to Mardis and Matt Pohler, but stranded the bases full when Blackwell struck out Gamez. Sandelovic singled during this rally, tallying Shiner’s only hit.
Johnson City built a lead Shiner couldn’t surmount in the fifth. Luke Neely singled to lead off the inning and stole second; one out later, he stole third. Blackwell singled him home, then stole second himself. Humphrey drove Blackwell home with a double to the left field gap, then scored one out later on a DeLeon single, putting Johnson City ahead 6-3. Johnson City locked down the game with three more runs in the sixth.
The winner of the series will represent Region IV in the State Tournament, and play a state semifinal Wednesday at the Dell Diamond.
Region IV Finals - Game 1 123 456 7 R H E SHINER 001 200 0 - 3 1 2 JOHNSON CITY 100 233 x - 9 9 3 E -- Shiner: Cuatro Rankin, Brady Cejka. Johnson City: Luke Neely 2, Dylan Carter. DP -- none. Triple Play: Johnson City 1. LOB -- Shiner 8, Johnson City 8. 2B -- Johnson City: Aaron Humphrey. SB -- Johnson City: Kris McDonald, Luke Neely 2, Laramie Blackwell, Cody Crofts. Pitching lines IP H R ER BB HBP K #pitches Johnson City Laramie Blackwell (W, 9-2) 7 1 3 2 7 2 4 143 Shiner Ky Sandelovic (L, 11-4) 5-1/3 9 9 8 5 0 5 122 Jacob Stafford 0-2/3 0 0 0 0 0 0 5