WEIMAR - Garet Pustka didn't have to think twice when coach Daniel Boedeker asked him if he wanted to pitch the decisive game of Shiner's best-of-three Class 1A regional final series against Thorndale.
"There was no way I was not going to pitch this game," Pustka said. "I've waited a lot of years to be in this position. There was no way I was going to sit in left field or at first base in this game."
Pustka's stuff matched his heart, as he pitched a six-hitter to lead the Comanches to a 5-3 win on Saturday at Strickland Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
Shiner, which took a 6-5 win in Game 1 on Wednesday with Pustka on the mound at Dreyer Field in Brenham, and dropped an 8-7 decision in Game 2 on Friday night at Strickland Field at Veterans Memorial Park, improved to 21-9.
The Comanches advanced to the state tournament for the second time in the last three years and will play a semifinal game on Wednesday at either 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. at Disch-Falk Field in Austin.
Game 3 was scheduled to be played at Dreyer Field, but was moved because of heavy rain in Brenham on Friday night.
But Pustka, who threw 137 pitches on Wednesday, found out he would be starting Game 2 after returning to Shiner and getting in his car to go home on Friday night.
"Coach Boedeker asked me how I felt and I told him I was good to go," Pustka said. "I had some soreness, but he asked if it was soreness or it hurt, and I said it was soreness."
Pustka limited a Thorndale (26-6) team that had scored 83 runs in nine playoff games to two hits through five innings.
"I think pitching Wednesday helped me," said Pustka, who struck out five, walked three and hit a batter. "I knew I wasn't go to throw fastballs by them. I hit to hit my spots and work my other pitches."
The Comanches gave Pustka a 4-0 lead, scoring a pair of runs in the second and single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
"We just had to come out with a bang," said designated hitter Dylan Hagens, who reached base four times and scored two runs. "We were just trying to hit the ball as soon as we could."
Hagens' RBI single put Shiner up 1-0 in the second inning and the Comanches added a second run on a wild pitch.
Shiner made it 3-0 in the fourth when Ryan Kloesel walked went to second on a wild pitch, to third on a throw to first when Pustka struck out, and scored on another wild pitch.
Hagens walked in the fifth, went to third on the second single of the game by Chase O'Conner and scored on a passed ball.
"We were being too anxious," Boedeker said of Games 1 and 2. "I told the kids last (Friday) night to just relax, have a good time and play our brand of ball."
Shiner had very little room to relax when Thorndale started the sixth with bloop singles by Chris Gerron and Easton Falke, and designated hitter Valente Reyes followed with a three-run home run over the right-field fence.
But Pustka retired the next three batters and gave himself an insurance run in the top of the seventh when he blooped a single to right field and went all the way to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a single by Scott Shimek.
"We were a little down after last night," said Shimek, who went 2-for-3 on Saturday. "But we just knew we had to come out and hit the ball."
Pustka made the lead stand up in the seventh by pitching through a disputed call at first base that resulted in an infield hit brought both Boedeker and assistant coach Steve Cerny out of the dugout and Shiner's first error of the game.
Pustka sent the Comanches on their way to Austin when with his 109th pitch he got Gerren to hit the ball to third baseman Russell Boothe, who stepped on third and threw to Shimek at first for Shiner's third double play of the game.
"The way we set up the series was to space it out for this reason," Boedeker said. "Garet being the competitor he is and a team leader, he wanted the ball, and he did a great job."
Game Summary: Score F Shiner 0 2 0 0 1 1 1 -- 5 Thorndale 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 -- 3 Highlights: Class 1A regional final, Game 3 Garet Pustka and Brady Strauss. Wade Gilchrist, Easton Faulke (7) and Kevin Zuehlk, Colby Hilton (7). WP: Pustka (12-4). LP: Gilchrist (6-1). Highlights: (S) Scott Shimek 2-for-3, RBI, run; Chase O'Conner 2-for-4; Dylan Hagens 1- for-1, RBI, 2 runs, reached base four times; (T) Valente Reyes 1-for-2, 3-run HR; Chris Gerren 2-for-3, run. Records: Shiner 21-9, Thorndale 26-6.