SMITHVILLE -- Thorndale had just watched a four-run lead disappear heading into the top of the sixth inning of game 2 of the Regional Semi-Finals against Shiner Saturday. Then the Bulldog offense showed just how explosive it can be.
COMING HOME: Thorndale’s Marcus Gest slides into home plate during the Bulldogs’ 10-run sixth inning Saturday. Photo by Jeremy Weber
Thorndale sent 14 batters to the plate and scored 10 runs in the frame to put away the Comanches and take one more step toward defending their state title.
It was the bottom of the order that did the most damage for the Bulldogs Saturday as No. 8 hitter Cirilo Reyes and No. 9 hitter Marcus Gest combined to score five runs on four hits while driving in two.
Junior Josh Culp picked up the win for the Bulldogs after pitching the opening five innings while Victor Reyes came on to close out his second straight game.
Sophomore Kyle Condel took the loss for the Comanches.
With the series sweep, Thorndale advances to the 1A Region IV Finals, where they will face Fayettville, who came back from a 1-0 deficit to defeat D'Hanis in three games in the Regional Semi-Finals.
Miles Grisham led off the contest with a single to right for the Bulldogs but was forced out at second as Austin Falke hit into a fielder's choice. Falke was picked off and the Bulldogs were kept off the scoreboard as a strikeout ended the half-inning.
After Shiner failed to score in the bottom of the inning, Culp gave Thorndale its second straight lead-off single in the top of the second, but the Bulldogs would again be unable to score in the inning.
Dustin Mayberry picked up a two-out infield hit for the Comanches in the bottom of the inning and advanced to second on a passed ball before Culp struck out Josh Nance to end the threat.
The Bulldogs finally broke through in the top of the third, scoring four runs on five hits to take the lead.
Gest got things started with a lead-off single to center and advanced to third on an error by the left fielder on the play. Grisham followed with a single to left and advanced to second on the Comanches' second consecutive error.
Falke singled to right to drive in Gest for the Bulldogs' first run and later stole second as Jeff Kiesling struck out for the first out of the inning.
Kalen Revia extended the Thorndale lead to 3-0 with a two-RBI triple to right center and later scored on a single to center by Colby Hilton to put the Bulldogs up 4-0.
Shiner wasted no time cutting into Thorndale's lead, scoring a run on two singles and a passed ball in the bottom of the inning.
Shiner continued to chip away at the lead in the fourth inning as Mayberry led off with a long home run to left that made the score 4-2.
Colten Henley walked, took second on an error and moved to third on an error and later scored to cut the Bulldog lead to one.
Thorndale escaped further damage later in the inning after Shiner put runners on the corners with one out. A ground ball to short by Ky Pohler was scooped up by Falke, who ran to touch second and threw to first for an inning-ending double play to save a run.
Kiesling led off the top of the fifth with a single to center for the Bulldogs but would be left on base as the Thorndale lead remained 4-3.
Shiner manufactured the tying run in the bottom of the fifth with a lead-off single by D.J. Pustka, who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mark Casteel.
Pustka scored on an error to tie the game at four after five innings of play.
After a dugout pep-talk from seniors Grisham, Hilton and Kiesling, the Bulldogs offense put on a show in the sixth.
Cirilo Reyes got the inning started with a sharply hit ground ball to short that was misplayed for an error, moved to second on a single to center by Gest and advanced to third as Grisham drew a walk to load the bases with no outs.
Falke drove in Reyes with a single to center and Gest scored as Kiesling hit into a fielder's choice.
Grisham scored on a wild pitch before Revia walked and Culp was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Falke was forced out at home as Hilton hit into a fielder's choice for the second out of the inning, but the Bulldogs would score seven more times before the inning ended.
Jeff Hinistroza walked to force in a run and Cirilo Reyes was hit by a pitch to bring in another to push the lead to 9-4.
Gest picked up his second single of the inning to bring in another run and Grisham forced in a run with a walk to make the score 11-4.
Falke brought in two runs with a single to center and a single to left by Kiesling brought Grisham around to score before Falke was tagged out at second to end the inning with Thorndale leading 14-4.
Shiner scored two in the bottom of the inning to keep the game from ending via the 10-run rule, but could come no closer as Thorndale cruised to the victory.
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