Bullard's Zach Eschberger was one out away from a no-hitter but still led the Panthers to a 2-0 victory on the way to a two-game sweep of Canton in the Class 4A area playoffs on Friday at Mike Carter Field.
Eschberger came on to close out Game 2, a 7-5 victory, as Bullard (19-6) advances to the regional quarterfinals against either Van or Paris North Lamar. Canton ended its season 10-9.
In a pitchers' duel in the first of Friday's doubleheader, Eschberger allowed only a double to Cole Sullivan for a shutout victory.
Eschberger, a Henderson State signee, struck out six with no walks and one hit batter. The crafty lefty needed 45 pitches to go through the first six innings.
Canton's Hunter Moore nearly matched his pitching counterpart, scattering five hits without allowing an earned run.
A fielder's choice and hit by pitch led to Bullard's two runs in the fourth. Nic Costas hit a ground ball that resulted in a throwing error to bring the runs in.
Wes Jones and Josh Chewning led the Panthers bats in Game 1, each going 2 for 3. Travis Kotzur added the other hit.
Costas went 2 for 3 with two runs, Jacob Jackson was 2 for 2 with three runs and Kotzur added a two-run single to spark Bullard to victory in Game 2, 7-5.
The Panthers built a 7-2 lead heading to the bottom of the sixth when the Eagles scored three runs to cut the deficit to two.
Kyle Farrell ripped an RBI double for Canton, finishing 2 for 3 on the day. Ryan Casey (1 for 1, two runs) and Cole Sullivan (2 for 4, run) also aided the Eagles' offense.
Ty Miller earned the win on the mound before giving way to Eschberger in the seventh.
Class 4A Area Playoff
At Mike Carter Field
Bullard 2, Canton 0
Canton 000 000 0 — 0 1 3
Bullard 000 200 x — 2 5 0
Hunter Moore and John Adams. Zach Eschberger and Cleet Bowman. W – Eschberger. L – Moore. 2B – C: Cole Sullivan. SB – B: Travis Kotzur. DP – B: 1.
Bullard 7, Canton 5
Bullard 203 011 0 — 7 8 1
Canton 010 013 0 — 5 9 3
Ty Miller, Zach Eschberger (7), and Cleet Bowman. Steven Sterling, Gus Brewer (3), and John Adams. W – Miller. L – Bowman. 2B – C: Kyle Farrell, Hunter Moore, Chandler Eiland. SAC – B: Travis Kotzur. C: Adams. SB – B: Brooks Parham, Jacob Jackson. C: Cole Sullivan.
RECORDS — Bullard 19-6; Canton 10-9.
NEXT UP — Bullard vs. Van-Paris North Lamar winner, TBD.