The Santa Fe Indians had a big top of the fourth inning and made it through the only bit of shakiness in the field they had in the series, as they came through with a 5-4 win in Game 2 of their Region III-5A quarterfinal series, sweeping Barbers Hill to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
“We’ve had two close ones — this one shouldn’t have been, but we made it a close one,” Santa Fe head coach Ronnie Wulf said. “But, we still got through it. They don’t quit, and they love playing the game.”
Santa Fe will face the No. 1-ranked Class 5A team in the state, Georgetown, in the regional semifinals at a time, date and location to be determined.
Trailing 1-0 after missing out on promising scoring opportunities in each of the first two innings, Santa Fe came through with a four-run top of the fourth, which began with a leadoff double from Grant Pfaff. Rome Shubert singled and Bryce Montemayor walked to load the bases and set up the run-scoring plays, which came in a variety of ways.
Cameron Bennett drew a bases-loaded walk to force the first run home, and Landon Thompson chopped a run-scoring groundout for a 2-1 lead. After a balk saw the third run trot home, starting pitcher Dalton Stevens helped his own cause with an RBI single.
The Indians added a run to their lead with a two-out rally in the top of the fifth. Shubert got it started with a double raked to the left-center field gap, and Montemayor extended the inning by drawing a walk. After that, Bennett lined an RBI single to center field for the 5-1 advantage.
In an inning that was extended by an error and a missed fly out opportunity on a foul ball, Barbers Hill made the game interesting with a three-run bottom of the sixth inning.
Raytheon Malone walked and Greg Smith singled to get things started. After a strikeout, an error on what looked like a potential line-out, throw-out double play loaded the bases. A shallow fly out brought the inning one out away from ending, but Trevor Turnbough came through with an RBI single, and Cameron Cauley made the Indians pay for the dropped fly out in foul territory with a two-run single.
Closer Jeremy Sheppard entered the game, and induced a fly out to end the sixth inning, and then pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to earn a clutch save.
“I thought he was great,” Wulf said. “He’s been doing that for us all year long.”
Back-to-back first-pitch, two-out base hits saw Barbers Hill take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Turnbough lined a single through the right side of the infield before Cauley rocketed an RBI double deep to the left-center field gap.
In five innings, Barbers Hill left two runners on base as Santa Fe’s pitchers and defense worked out of further damage — including in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Albert Garza made a great diving stop on a hard grounder and flipped the ball to second base for the inning-ending out with runners on the corners.
“Other than those two plays (in the sixth), our defense has been stellar,” Wulf said. “The play Albert made at shortstop over there was just unbelievable. They’re amazing me every day.”
Bennett (2-for-2, two RBIs, one run) and Shubert (2-for-4, two runs) had multi-hit games for the Indians, while Cauley (3-for-4, three RBIs) and Turnbough (2-for-4, one RBI, one run) did the same for the Eagles.