Cody Smith and Laramie Blackwell combined for a five-hitter to propel the Johnson City Eagles to a 4-1 victory over the Shiner Comanches Saturday afternoon at North East Stadium.
Johnson City (30-6-1, #6 in the state) joins #1 Blue Ridge, Stamford, and Overton in the state tournament, with the semifinals to be played Wednesday. Matchups will be announced Sunday.
Although Johnson City was 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position, three productive outs and a Shiner error allowed them to score four times.
With one out in the first, Cody Crofts hit an infield single to the shortstop; Luke Neely followed with a double down the right field line. Crofts held at third, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Dylan Carter, giving Johnson City a 1-0.
The Eagles plated two unearned runs against Ky Sandelovic (11-5) in the third. Kris McDonald led off the inning with a single to center, then stole second. Sandelovic, who threw 122 pitches while taking the loss in Game One on Thursday, then walked Crofts on four pitches. Sandelovic struck out Luke Neely looking, then gave up a fly ball to center field by Dylan Carter. Joey Gamez, who had thrown out Smith at the plate in the second, dropped the ball, allowing McDonald to score, Crofts to go to third, and Carter to second. Laramie Blackwell then grounded out to short, scoring Crofts and making it 3-0 Eagles.
The sun played havoc with a fly ball again in the fourth. With one out, Garrett Deleon hit a high fly ball to center field. Gamez, the winning pitcher in Game Two, reached up as if to catch the ball, but it landed three feet to Gamez’ right for a double. Deleon stole third, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Jaxon Riebesehl, building the lead to 4-0.
Smith (8-1), pitching for the first time in the series, had a three-hit shutout through six innings before tiring in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single to Jacob Stafford, who’d come on to relief Sandelovic on the mound.
Gamez followed with a grounder to Smith. Smith waited for the shortstop Neely to cover second, then his throw pulled Neely to the right field side of the base. Neely appeared to apply a tag to Stafford well before the runner reached second, but Stafford was called safe. Wesley Patek followed with a single to left, scoring Stafford for the first Shiner run.
Stafford was the first Comanche to reach third base; Gamez, who went to third on the Patek single, was the second and last.
Johnson City coach Randy Rutherford then went to his Game One starter. Blackwell, who threw 143 pitches in his one-hitter against Shiner (28-10) on Thursday, came on to face the tying run. Blackwell struck out Donovan Mardis and Matt Pohler, then got Blaine Caka to ground out to the shortstop Neely to end the game, earning his second save of the season.
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blankRegion IV Finals - Game 3 123 456 7 R H E SHINER 000 000 1 - 1 5 1 JOHNSON CITY 102 100 x - 4 8 0 E -- Shiner: Joey Gamez. DP -- Johnson City 1. LOB -- Johnson City 4, Shiner 5. 2B -- Johnson City: Luke Neely, Garrett Deleon. SB -- Shiner: Joey Gamez, Wesley Patek; Johnson City: Cody Smith, Kris McDonald, Garrett Deleon. Pitching lines IP H R ER BB HBP K #pitches Johnson City Cody Smith (W, 8-1) 6 5 1 1 2 0 4 91 Laramie Blackwell (Sv, 2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 Shiner Ky Sandelovic (L, 11-5) 4 7 4 2 1 0 2 69 Jacob Stafford 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 9