CROWLEY – Topping the game-one walk-off theatrics of the 3A Region II Bi-District Championship between the (18-9-2) Palmer Bulldogs out of District 12-3A and (17-9) Glen Rose Tigers hailing from 11-3A should have been no simple feat. But it happened – twice.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, there was just a little more magic in the opposing dugout. Glen Rose came from behind in thrilling fashion Saturday afternoon in a 4-3 game two win, but Palmer pulled it together early – and then again late – in game three cut the Tigers season shorter than many hoped.
“I knew that [Glen Rose] was going to be good,” said first-year Palmer Bulldog Head Coach Bo Moore. “[…] I knew they were going to play hard and were going to come out in that first game today and be ready to play. Like we told our kids in the first inning of game three when we were up 5-0, ‘They’re going to come back.’ We knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park for the last six innings and they did [come back]. Glen Rose is scrappy and that was a dang good test for the first round.”
The series was the epitome of riding in a high-speed, unconventional rollercoaster that frequently felt as if it may fly off the rails.
Two unexpected heroes were the storyline of the first two games of the three-game Bi-District Championship series.
First it was the Jacob Ruiz walk-off single he hit on the screws for the Bulldogs in game one. It was then Brennan Cary who delivered the game-winning RBI for the Tigers in the sixth inning of game two. Both RBI were the first for each player since the two teams began play in their respective districts.
Damian Garcia (3) and Ruiz (3) then kicked off the decisive game three with two first-inning two-run home runs to cap the five-run offensive outburst.
It was the first multi-home run game for Palmer in over two months and the third of the season.
“Putting up that five spot in the first inning was huge for us, but just like we talked about after game you can’t let up on the intensity because those kids in the other dugout are thinking the same thing you are thinking,” Moore said. “They know it could be their last game, too. It is one of those deals where you can’t be satisfied with the big inning and think that your at-bats in the second and third innings don’t mean anything because of that first inning.”
For Garcia (.488/.522/.767 since 12-3A play began), the home run was his second of the series. The senior finished 6-for-10 with two home runs and four RBIs on the weekend.
But resiliency recently became a common theme among the Glen Rose ballclub. During the second half of district, it was obvious that the seniors had made a conscious effort to lead.
The Tigers battled back in the third inning – all the way back.
Drayton Williams worked a five-pitch walk (10) to lead off the frame and Layne McAnear (.373/.475/.493) followed with an opposite-field double. McAnear finished the season with hits in 13-of-his-last-14 games to raise his batting average nearly 100 points.
Singles by Gage Costello and Ty Campbell drove in Williams and McAnear for their fifth and third RBIs of the season, respectively. Cary, the game two hero, flew out to deep center field to tie the game at five and Camron Rush (.295/.421/.321) snuck a single over the head of the Palmer second baseman to give the Tigers a 6-5 lead.
The single not only chased Garcia, the regular Bulldog right fielder, back into his normal defensive position, it also put the Tigers’ everyday right fielder and relief pitcher, Gus Stoner (1-1, 1.75 ERA) in line for a win.
Neither Garcia nor Stoner recorded a single inning of work during district play.
But much like Friday night, the Bulldogs fought back.
The heart of the Palmer lineup – Cole Yarbrough, Dylan Lopez, Carter and Garcia – has supplied well over half of the team’s offense over the last month and nine days. The foursome boasts a .366/.429/1.375 slash line with 56 of the 104 Bulldog hits and 15 of the team’s 26 extra-base hits over that span.
So it should come as no surprise that it was Yarbrough (3-10, 2B, 3R, RBI in the series) who roped a single into left field to lead off the inning. Just as it shouldn’t be unexpected that Lopez (2-11, 2B, BB, 2R) and Carter (3-11, 3 2B, 3RBI, 3R) stung RBI doubles into left field. Or that Garcia capped the three-run inning with the eventual game-winning RBI on a sac-fly to fairly deep center field.
The biggest surprise of Saturday – Shawn Medina was the winning pitcher.
Not because the righty doesn’t have the physical tools, but because it was his first victory since March 10 in a 10-0 win over Everman.
In fact, Medina recorded just 4.1 innings of work during the entirety of district play.
But while he allowed five runs on nine hits with two walks over those 13 outs, Medina surrendered one-unearned run on two hits with two strikeouts during his 4.1 IP on Saturday.
Palmer advances to take on the (21-7-1) Bowie Jackrabbits in the 3A Region II Area Championship.
A three-part season recap will begin in next week’s, May 12, Glen Rose Reporter.