GALVESTON – Ball High took offense to Thursday’s 10-run-rule shellacking and turned it into a positive Friday night.
The Tors jumped to an early 3-0 lead, then fought off a last-inning rally attempt by the visiting George Ranch Longhorns to salvage a 3-2 victory at Tor Field and even the Class 4A first-round best-of-three baseball series at one game apiece.
“I think that put a fire into them,” Ball High coach Steve Hecker said of the 13-3 loss in game one. “They know they have to play faster and play better in the playoffs.”
The Tors scored twice in the second inning and once more in the third to grab its three-run advantage.
Then in the fourth, Ball High’s Baine Schoenvogel smashed a double to the left-field fence and tried to extend it to a triple, but Longhorn left fielder Brady Burns threw a perfect strike to Kyle Owen at third base to erase Schoenvogel and keep the score at 3-0.
That eventually led to the nailbiting moments to come for both teams.
“That was absolutely a great play,” Hecker said. “When I looked up, Baine took a good turn at second. He’s our fastest baserunner, and there was only one way he was going to be thrown out, and that was with a perfect throw.
“(Burns) did exactly that. He’s their best throwing outfielder.”
The Longhorns then responded with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning.
Grant Page led off with a walk and heads-up running on a wild pitch to advance to third. One out later, Alex Shaver singled up the middle to send home Page for a 3-1 ballgame.
Cameron Boudreaux followed with a base hit to set up Stone Garrett’s RBI double to the left-center field wall. Shaver slipped rounding third, but still was able to score when the relay got past third base, making it a 3-2 score.
In came Schoenvogel to relieve starter and eventual winning pitcher Jake Simon.
Schoenvogel delivered with two straight strikeouts, leaving the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base.
“Jake did well, but we got in a situation to go with Baine,” Hecker said. “They both were big tonight.”
The Tors threatened to score in the bottom half when Parker Prets singled and Alvin Lee walked, but losing pitcher Kevin Kopps struck out the next batter before denying Ball High with an inning-ending ground out.
In the sixth, George Ranch put runners again at third and second bases, only to strand them again when Lee at shortstop made an inning-saving throwout to first.
Then, for the third consecutive inning, the Longhorns were in scoring position once more at third and second. This time Schoenvogel rose to the occasion with his sixth strikeout to end the game.
“This speaks volumes for who they are as a team,” Hecker said of his players. “They’re learning from their mistakes quickly.”
Ball High’s first runs came off of three straight infield hits by Lee, Todd Streck and Brandon Enriquez.
With the bases loaded, Schoenvogel smashed an RBI single into left to score Lee. Then Simon walked to force home Streck for a 2-0 edge.
One inning later, the Tors were up 3-0.
Prets hit a one-out single to right field, and one pitch later, raced home when Lee hammered an RBI double to left-centerfield.
“Hopefully we can go and have a great game (today),” Hecker said.