Bells loses Game 3 against Grandview

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Bells' Landon Nelson catches an errant throw before tagging Grandview's Jacob Vernon during a 3A Region II area round series.

PLANO — The last month had been a grind for the Panthers. They made a late push to get a third of the 11-3A title. They played in a district tie-breaker. And for the second straight week Bells found itself in a three-game playoff battle.

But the grind came to an end for the Panthers, who couldn’t come up with any offense after staving off elimination.

Grandview started pulling away in the fourth inning on the way to an 8-0 victory over Bells in Game 3 to win a Class 3A Region II area round series at John Paul II.

Grandview (28-6) will face Boyd in the region quarterfinals.

“We were going to be able to compete and that goes to the kids don’t back down from a challenge,” Panthers head coach Kent Craig said. “We won five of the last six to give ourselves a chance to win the district title. I knew what we had. They hadn’t proven it yet until they did.”

Landon Nelson doubled and was hit by a pitch while Colt Stone, Preston Carter and Koehler High singled for Bells (24-10).

Blaine Vaughan scattered four hits, a walk and hit a pair, Cayden Self was 2-for-2, walked twice and scored twice, Jimmy Mathis singled, walked twice and scored twice, Garrett Johnson was 2-for-3 with three RBI and Mason Lawson was 2-for-3, doubled, drove in two and scored for the Zebras.

The Panthers had their chances to get on the board, putting runners on in every inning but the third. Two of those were really good opportunities.

In the fifth inning, Preston Carter singled to right and Koehler High dunked a single into center to turn the lineup over. Vaughan buckled down with a pair of flyouts around a force that put runners at the corners.

Landon Nelson double into the right-field corner to open the second inning but a pair of groundouts to third kept him anchored there. Preston Carter walked before Koehler High’s pop-out to short.

“We couldn’t get that hit. We could never get it going,” Craig said. “You have to give them credit. He never really gave us a shot.”

Nelson was hit by a pitch with one out in the fourth, Stone had a two-out single in the sixth and Koehler High reached second on a one-out error in the seventh and was stranded at third. In the first, Tanner Carter was hit by a pitch with one out but a forceout and groundout ended the frame.

The Zebras closed out the scoring with three runs in the seventh on Rahat Suddle's bunt and then Lawson had a two-out, two-run double into the left-field corner.

Grandview extended its lead to 5-0 with two outs in the fifth on Johnson's infield single.

The Zebras opened up a 4-0 advantage in the top of the fourth on a bizarre sequence. After two quick outs, Self singled before Lawson and Vaughan walked to load the bases.

Bells turned to Austin Young in relief of Cooper Smith and Johnson greeted him with a single to right. Preston Carter had a chance for the force at first base to end the inning, but the throw didn’t get there in time.

Smith stretched to make the catch and ended up on the ground. Lawson was already heading home with the third run but Vaughan also continued to circle the bases in the confusion — Johnson looked to have been tagged off the bag after initially standing over Smith to obstruct a throw and a time-out was apparently never called.

“That was the turning point. Momentum really went away from us,” Craig said. “Even if we get out of that 1-0, even 2-0, none of it matters if you don’t score any runs.”

It could have been worse but Keaton High threw out Johnson trying to score on Mason Metzler’s single up the middle to end the inning.

Grandview had jumped to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Suddle's RBI double to center.

The Panthers turned a triple play in the second with the help of some aggressive base-running by the Zebras. Self walked to lead off the inning, stole second and Grandview had runners at the corners after Lawson’s bunt single.

Lawson stole second before the Zebras tried to pull off a suicide squeeze. Vaughan popped up the bunt and Smith grabbed it, doubled Lawson off second and Tanner Carter threw to Preston Carter at third to nab Self, who had slid across the plate and was unable to retreat the full 90 feet.

Area Round

Class 3A Region II

At Plano John Paul II

Game 3

Grandview                    8

Bells                             0