ANNA — In a game between two top-ranked teams, the first meeting lived up to the billing of what is expected to be a very even series.
The Pottsboro Cardinals and Van Alstyne Panthers proved that in Game 1 as it took until the 10th frame to determine a winner.
It was the Panthers who were able to finally break the stalemate as Van Alstyne defeated Pottsboro, 7-4, in 10 innings in the opener of a Class 3A Region II quarterfinal series on Thursday night.
Van Alstyne (24-4) will look to advance with a win in Game 2 at 5 p.m. on Friday night at Anna while Pottsboro (24-6) is trying to force a Game 3, which would immediately follow.
Three innings of scoreless, high-drama innings came to an end in the top of the 10th.
After Jordan Caldwell drew a walk, Rhett Gallagher worked a full count and then went the other way with an RBI double into the left-field corner.
Samuel Tormos then singled to left field to make it a 6-4 margin and then David Terrill reached as the Panthers lead swelled to three.
With two outs in the bottom of the 10th, Coby Langford walked with two outs before Van Alstyne was able to close it out.
Terrill had walked to open the top of the ninth and Chandler David sacrificed him to second. Hayden Kent, in relief of Langford, got a strikeout and groundout to keep the score level.
Zach Smith, who earned the win with 5.1 innings in relief of Gallagher, retired 11 straight to end the seventh and get into the 10th.
Cooper Lyons made a running catch in foul territory off first for a double play in the top of the eighth to end Van Alstyne’s attempt to push the go-ahead run across.
Pottsboro got the winning run to second in the bottom of the seventh when Kent stole second with two outs after leading off the inning with a hit by pitch.
Van Alstyne’s chance to break the tie in the seventh ended after Tyler Wilson walked with one out and was caught stealing second by Jackson Lipscomb.
After Pottsboro took the lead, Van Alstyne had an immediate answer to tie the game as the Panthers loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth. Wilson and Gallagher sandwiched singles around a walk by Caldwell.
Langford almost escaped totally unscathed after two straight strikeouts and a two strikes on Nathan Cuthbertson, who was hit by a pitch to force in a run. Terrill singled up the middle to tie the game at four and took second on the throw back in to put both runners in scoring position before an inning-ending flyout.
In the fifth, Pottsboro jumped in front with a four-run inning. Jett Carroll led off with a walk and Jake Williams followed with a ground-rule double that bounced over the left-field fence to put both runners in scoring position.
Kent hit a triple into the left-center gap that kept carrying and was out of the reach of Caldwell attempt to make it a sac fly instead.
Robert Goins plated Kent with a one-out flyball to left for a 3-1 advantage.
Then with two outs, Langford doubled to left and scored on Cooper Lyons’ double to the left-center field wall.
The Panthers missed a chance to add to their lead in the fifth when Cuthbertson singled up the middle and went to second on a wild pitch. Langford got a flyout and two strikeouts to keep Pottsboro’s deficit at just a run.
Lipscomb walked with two outs in the bottom of the third to give the Cardinals a chance and courtesy runner Titus Lyons went to second on a wild pitch before Gallagher ended the frame with a strikeout.
Van Alstyne got on the board first with an unearned run in the third inning. Chandler David went all the way to third on an error to open the frame and Ethan Litzkow lifted a fly ball to right that was deep enough for David to tag up for the 1-0 advantage.
Pottsboro loaded the bases with two outs in the second. Grayson Watson waited on a curve ball to pull a single into left field before back-to-back walks by Jasek Hooker and Carroll. Gallagher kept the game scoreless with a flyout to right.
The Panthers had a runner in scoring position in the top of the second when Cuthbertson walked and took second on an errant pickoff throw with two outs before being stranded there.
Both teams went in order in the first inning.