EMORY — David Terrill’s sacrifice with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning provided the deciding run two batters after Van Alstyne tied the game and the Panthers held on to beat Atlanta, 4-3, in Game 3 of Class 3A Region II semifinal series at Emory Rains on Saturday.
Van Alstyne (27-5) advances to the region final and will face Big Sandy Harmony (29-7) for a berth at the state tournament. It is the Panthers’ first appearance in the fifth round since finishing as the state runner-up in 2016.
Atlanta (20-10) was trying to get to the region final for the first time since 1998.
Terrill drove in two runs, Zach Smith drove in one and earned the save, Samuel Tormos singled, walked and scored twice and Rhett Gallagher was 2-for-3 and got the win.
The Rabbits went ahead, 3-2, with a two-out RBI double to center by Kade Wood in the top of the sixth. Kolby Mason singled with one down and Jackson Warren scored all the way from first after a groundout.
Pinch-hitter Alex Rivera walked to kick off the comeback for Van Alstyne and Gallagher singled. Tormos walked to load the bases and Smith walked to force in a run and tie the game. The Rabbits got a force at home before Terrill’s bunt plated Tormos.
Smith worked around a one-out single in the seventh to preserve the win.
Van Alstyne took a 1-0 lead in the second when Tormos singled, stole second and went to third on a groundout. After Nathan Cuthbertson walked, Terrill grounded out to first but got the run home.
Chandler David followed with an RBI single.
Jake Thompson, who was 3-for-4 and scored twice, cut the deficit in half with a one-home run in the third inning. The Rabbits tied the game in the fifth when Max Ebarb’s sac fly to center drove in Thompson, who tripled to lead off the inning.
Atlanta forced the deciding contest with a 2-1 victory earlier in the day. The Rabbits scored both of their runs in the fourth after Van Alstyne had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third.
Tormos allowed the runs on three hits with three strikeouts and three walks in six innings.
Van Alstyne finished with five hits of its own. Tyler Wilson doubled and scored, Gallagher singled, walked and drove in a run and Tormos, Smith and Terrill singled.
Wilson led off the third with a double to left and scored on Gallagher’s one-out single to right. But that was all the Panthers could muster the rest of the way.
Tormos lined into a double play to end that inning and his single with two outs in the sixth was the next Van Alstyne base runner.
Terrill had a one-out single in the seventh as the Panthers looked to tie the game but two outs followed.
Atlanta put together the winning rally when Thompson walked with one out in the fourth and Ebarb doubled to left. Andy Samples tied the game with a groundout to second and Kelby Smith singled to center for what turned out to be the deciding run.