Walk-off wild pitch in 10th gives Gunter the Game 1 win over Maypearl
FORT WORTH — The two decisions happened in split seconds and they could end up having long-range effects for the Gunter Tigers.
Deadlocked in a scoreless battle which looked to have no end in sight, a choice not to try and score — coupled with one to do that just moments later — proved to be enough to put Gunter in the driver’s seat.
Garrett Vogel scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning to give the Tigers a 1-0 victory over Maypearl in the opener of a Class 3A Region II quarterfinal series at Justin Northwest.
“It says a lot about their character,” Gunter head coach Daryl Hellman said. “At that point a run’s a run. I’m just glad we were the ones to score it.”
The Tigers (31-7) will try to sweep and advance to the fourth round with a win in Game 2 at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at Northwest while the Panthers (19-7) will try to force a deciding contest at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Northwest.
Gunter put together the winning sequence all with two outs. Vogel and Kaden Rigsby each walked on four pitches and Cade Dodson battled back from an 0-2 count with a single to right.
Hellman held Vogel at third after a good throw to the plate.
“I thought it was 50-50. The ball was already on its way in when he was just getting to the bag,” Hellman said. “I’m never going to do something to cost the kids a game. I didn’t want to end the threat with an out like that in the best part of our lineup.”
The very next pitch by Tanner Terry trickled through Clay Payne’s legs and got far enough away so Vogel could get to the plate in time. Any hesitation would have led to the final out of the inning.
Isaac Villanueva stretched his scoreless innings streak to 55 after pitching into the eighth inning and Gunter pulled out the win despite having only two hits.
Michael Todd was just as good on the mound for Maypearl, allowing a hit in eight innings while Tomas Castanon and Colt Frazier each went 2-for-4 to account for all of the hits by the Panthers.
“Both teams deserved to win that game,” Hellman said. “Both pitchers deserved to win that game.”
There was plenty of drama after the seventh as five of the six ensuing half-innings saw a runner reach scoring position.
Riekkhan Bostick opened the eighth with a five-pitch walk and courtesy runner Zach Boland moved up on the next pitch, which went to the backstop.
But a pair of flyouts around a groundout never put him any closer to scoring.
In the ninth, Terry replaced Todd before Cooper Wade had a one-out double just inside the right-field line. With two outs a wild pitch sent him to third but Boland flew out to center to keep the game scoreless for one more inning.
Nash Daniel had relieved Villanueva with two outs in the eighth and walked Aaron Jett and Todd before regrouping with a strikeout of Castanon after falling behind in the count 2-1.
Maypearl nearly got a break in the ninth on Payne’s leadoff liner to left. Rigsby started in to make the catch and then had to leap as it was about to get over his head. He came down with the ball instead of what would have been no worse than a double.
Brooks White walked and stole second before a pop-out. Landon Pelfrey came on to get the final out of the inning and the Panthers went in order against him in the 10th.
The story before extra innings was the duel between Villanueva and Todd. The left-handers matched zeros — getting through the first five innings in a crisp 55 minutes — until they hit their pitch counts.
Todd went the full eight, throwing 111 pitches, and allowed five Tigers to reach base with a single and four walks while striking out five.
Villanueva got to 113 pitches after getting the first two outs in the eighth. He also allowed five base runners with four singles and a walk. He finished with six strikeouts.
Both teams had their best chances to put up a run against the starters in the sixth.
Maypearl kicked off its inning with Frazier’s single to left and he went to third on Castanon’s two-out single to center. Castanon stole second but Payne popped out to short.
Gunter put together a two-out rally when Rigsby walked on four pitches and Dodson reached on an error that put runners at the corners. Dodson followed with a steal but Trey Oblas flew out to right.
The Tigers did put the winning run on base in the seventh with a one-out walk by Pelfrey but he never left first base.
Before that point, Todd only allowed a two-out single to Pelfrey in the second and a two-out walk by Carter Layton in the fifth.
Villanueva worked around a single by Jett to lead off the game as he was immediately erased by Bostick on a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play. Castanon followed with an infield single before a groundout.
Frazier had a one-out single in the third and stole second. But he tried to advance on Jett’s groundout to short and was nabbed for the second out.
Class 3A Region II
At Justin Northwest