Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

May 10, 2014

Region II 4A Area playoff: Hallsville holds off Tigers 10-6 to sweep area round series

MINEOLA —      In the end it was all about heart and being tough and playing the game the right way, about diving for balls and hit and runs and bunts that drove teams crazy, about the biggest brand of small ball in Texas, about stealing bases and the hearts of all the Corsicana baseball fans.

    That’s what Corsicana’s incredible baseball season was all about.

    That remarkable and memorable season ended Saturday in Mineola in the Class 4A area round playoffs in a 10-6 loss to Hallsville, the No. 2 Class 4A team in the state, a team that was glad to never have to see the Tigers again.

    “We got tons of compliments about how we play the game and how scrappy this team is,’’ said Corsicana Coach Heath Autrey, whose kids gave everyone fits in their run through the season and playoffs. “They represented Corsicana High School. I’m proud to be their coach.”

    Autrey didn’t know what kind of team he would have because this was the youngest in his career, but said from the beginning he thought their youth and energy would be a big plus. He was a prophet. This team simply out-hustled everyone they played.

    “The kids played hard this year,” Autrey said. “We got better (as the season progressed). I can‘t wait to get started for next year.’’.   

    Hallsville (30-3) got the sweep of the best of three Saturday with a lineup that knows how to crush the ball, but the state-ranked Bobcats were in the fight of their lives before scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 10-6 lead.

    The Tigers (21-10) led the game early, stormed back to knot things at 5-5, and came back one last time to close to 7-6 in the fifth. Hallsville knew it had been in a dogfight.

    The Tigers, who scratch and claw and scrape and fight for everything they get, did it again in their final game, scoring two runs in the first inning without a hit.

    Layton Wolver was hit by a pitch and Brady Harlan walked to start the game. They both stole bases and Wolver scored on Bobby Lopez’s sacrifice fly and Harlan came home on Joe Vasquez’ RBI ground-out to give Corsicana a 2-0 lead.

    After falling behind 5-2, the Tigers knocked out Hallsville ace, Connor Reich, who has signed with TCU, in the fourth and almost blew the game open.

    They scored three runs in the inning on a hit -- a single by Carlos Vega. Trevor Nolen, who went the distance for the Tigers, led off the fourth with a walk and Vasquez got Corsicana’s first hit of the game, a sharp single to right. Chance Schlenk walked to load the bases and Rhett Holcomb hit a grounder to the left of Reich, who threw wild to the plate to allow Nolen to score. After Wolver flied out to first, Reich hit Harlan with a pitch and it was a 5-4 game. Lopez hit a grounder to first and Hallsville got the force at home for the second out, but Vasquez drew an RBI walk to knot the score at 5-5 and knocked Reich out of the game.

    Reich lasted just 3 2/3 innings and had trouble finding the strike zone. He walked six and hit two batters while striking out just one. He gave up one hit and left with the bases loaded. Colton Brasher saved Reich and the Bobcats. He came into the game and struck out D.J. Minniear to end the rally.

    Basher got the win in relief, giving up four hits and one run over the final 3 1/3 innings. The Tigers came close to knocking him out in the fifth. Nolen led off with a bunt single and moved up on Vega’s sacrifice bunt, and Holcomb drew a two-out walk to put runners at first and second. Wolver came through with an RBI single down the left field line that closed the score to 7-6 and Harlan followed with a bunt single to load the bases for Lopez. But Brasher got Lopez on a grounder to first to escape again.

    The Tigers left 11 runners on base, including leaving the bags jammed in the fourth and the fifth.

    “We just couldn’t get the hit to put them away,” Autrey said. “But that’s a good opponent. They can swing the bats.’’

    Hallsville’s first three hitters combined to go 8 for 10 with a pair of homers and scored seven runs while driving in seven. Reich, who hits third, did the most damage. He drove in Hallsville’s first run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the first, hit a two-run homer in the third to give Hallsville a 5-2 lead, and then ripped a two-run double in Hallsville’s three-run sixth that put the game away. He drove in five runs and scored twice.

    Jacob Walker, who bats second, went 4 for 4 with a double in the third (he scored in front of Reich on the homer) and after Corsicana knotted the score at 5-5 in the fourth, Walker belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to give Hallsville a 7-5 lead. He singled in the sixth and scored his third run of the game on Reich’s double.

    Hallsville’s leadoff hitter Macailyn Wilder led off the first with a double and scored and then led off the fourth with a single and scored in front of Walker’s homer. He was hit by a pitch in the sixth and scored on Reich’s double. The Bobcats had a dozen hits to finally put away a Corsicana team that simply wouldn’t quit and kept finding ways to score.

    In the end, that’s what everyone will remember about this young Tiger team -- they’ll remember their heart and scrappy play …

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