In some games, no one team deserves to lose, and unfortunately someone does. That was the case at Irwin Field on Thursday night in the Class 2A Region II semifinal between Nacogdoches Central Heights and Edgewood.
And when the final hit fell in left field, the Blue Devils had defeated Edgewood 2-1 in 10 innings.
The best-of-three series shifts from UT Tyler to Mike Carter Field on Saturday. Game 2 is scheduled for 4 p.m. If a third game is needed, it will follow the conclusion Game 2.
Each team threw one pitcher each in game one. Alex Phillips, a junior, allowed four hits and struck out 14 for Central Heights to get the win. Trey James pitched 9 1-3 innings for the Bulldogs, allowing seven hits and striking out 11.
“It’s something I’ve never done before. Ten innings is not easy,” Phillips said. “(Jameson) threw well, if not better than I did. Everything was working (for me). I threw my changeup a lot at the end to keep them off balance.”
Central Heights ended the contest on a long single to left field by Brady Clifton. Leadoff batter Hunter Haley, who has signed to play baseball at Oklahoma next year, reached on an infield single with one out. He then stole second and third, which prompted Edgewood coach Jason Seale to intentionally walk Hayden Summer and Phillips to load the bases and create a force out at home.
Clifton followed and after working a full count, he hit a deep fly ball to left that landed just short of the fence and allowed Haley to score the winning run.
“When we get (Haley) on base, he’s money,” Central Heights coach Craig Fuller said. “Big hit by Brady (Clifton) … we did some stupid stuff that prolonged the game, but at least we got the win.”
The Blue Devils plated the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning. Three straight singles — two via bunt — to lead off the inning loaded the bases. David Abel brought home the run on a sacrifice fly to center field.
Jameson worked out of the jam thanks to a strikeout and a sliding catch in right field by Jakeb Hunter to keep it a one run contest.
Central Heights held their 1-0 lead until the top of the sixth. Phillips issued his first walk to lead off the frame, which resulted in Edgewood tying the game at one.
Hunter took the walk and stole second during Davy Foster’s at-bat. Foster struck out, but Justin Bundy came through with a single to right field to score Hunter from second. Bundy eventually made it to third with two outs and was left stranded.
Edgewood put the go-ahead run on first to lead off the seventh inning. Ty Smith singled up the middle and Ethan Rumsey ran for him. Rumsey, however, attempted to steal with one out and was doubled off after a lineout to Central Height’s third baseman Clifton, which ended the inning.
The Blue Devils threatened with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Haley singled with two outs and after several pick-off attempts stole second and moved to third on a throwing error. But a fly out to center ended the frame and sent the game into extra innings.
“We’ve been in the situation all year,” Seale said. “We started 1-4 in district and we’ve had our back against the wall the whole season. Our guys will be fine Saturday.”
The winner of the series will face either Elkhart or Queen City in the regional finals.
Regional Semifinal, Class 2A Baseball Playoffs
Irwin Field, UT Tyler
Central Heights 2, Edgewood 1
Edgewood 000 001 000 0 – 1 4 2
Central Heights 010 000 000 1 – 2 7 2
Trey Jameson and Ty Smith. Alex Phillips and Austin Shoemaker. W – Phillips L – Jameson. LOB – Edgewood 4, Central Heights 7.
E – Ty Smith (2); Hayden Summers, Brady Clifton.
2B – Jacob Sharff. SF – David Abel. SB – Jakeb Hunter (2); Hunter Haley (3), Tanner Wisener, Hunter Williams, Dustin Shoemaker, Summers.
CS – Hunter, Colton Benton.
Records – Edgwood 20-15, Central Heights 26-9-1
Next up – Game 2 of best-of-three series, 4 p.m. Saturday at Mike Carter Field, Tyler. Winner faces Elkhart-Queen City winner.