By Jim Goodman
Shutouts by seniors Tyler Woodmansee and Calvin Coker over the weekend pushed the Hays High Rebels past Kerrville Tivy and into the Sweet 16 round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
“This is especially sweet because we reached this round (regional quarterfinals) last year and lost,” head coach Dennis Null said. “We’re so happy to get past this hurdle.”
Woodmansee went the distance Thursday night at neutral site Marble Falls High. The 6’3” 160-lb. Texas A&M signee allowed four hits and struck out seven on a picture-perfect Hill Country evening.
Tivy won game two in the best-of-three series, 7-3, Friday night. It was Tivy’s first win over its District 27-4A rival Hays in three tries – and it got Null’s attention.
“It was an uncharacteristically sloppy game by us,” Null said.
But Coker dashed Tivy’s hopes. He pitched a complete game Saturday, allowed only three singles and struck out five. The future Ranger College pitcher was all smiles as he said, “It actually wasn’t one of my better games.”
It was more than good enough to get the job done.
Hays (22-6) will play Victoria East (25-7), which demolished Laredo Martin 12-2 and 9-2 in Laredo.
Fans from both teams filled the relatively small Scearce Field, built entirely by hand by longtime Marble Falls HS baseball coach Tom Scearce, his brother and father with minimal help from the school district itself.
With two out in the fourth inning, Hays DH David Riojas singled to center, reached third on a base hit by first baseman Justin Diaz then scored on a bloop single by third baseman Nate Scott.
The 1-0 lead was all Woodmansee, affectionately known as “Woody,” would need.
Tivy got a bit sloppy in the fifth when centerfielder Michael Gonzalez was hit by a pitch, took second on a wild pitch, took third on a base hit by leftfielder Athen Shultz and scored on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Zach Ibarra.
It was Hays’ third win in a row over Tivy, counting two triumphs in District 27-4A play. Hays won the district title with a 12-2 record while Tivy snuck in as the fourth place squad at 7-7.
No one was prepared for what happened in game two.
Game two: Errors lead to Antler win
Hays took a 3-1 lead on consecutive singles by first baseman Justin Diaz and third baseman Nate Scott, a triple by right fielder Devin Palm and a single by pitcher Michael Gonzalez against Tivy hurler Payeton Becker.
But Tivy got to Gonzalez in the bottom-of-the-third. Antler catcher Cameron Melcher singled, took second on a wild pitch, took third on a fly out to right field and scored on a single by first baseman Brett Hill. Shortstop J.T. White and centerfielder Tres White reached base on errors and both scored on a fly ball hit to the outfield that wasn’t caught.
Three of Hays’ four errors took place in the bottom of the third. When the inning ended, Tivy had a 4-3 lead and a newfound confidence. Tivy pitcher Becker only gave up one hit the rest of the way and struck out six.
Although both teams got seven hits, four Rebel errors led to four unearned Antler runs — the difference in a 7-3 game. Tivy’s Becker got the win and Hays’ Gonzalez, who was lifted after three and two-third innings (five hits, two walks and no strikeouts) was the hard-luck losing pitcher.
Game three: Coker, Rebel hitters
The Saturday afternoon game allowed fans and players to finally view Scearce Field’s magnificent Hill Country vista.
Hays’ fans especially enjoyed Rebel hitters pounding four pitchers for nine hits in a 10-0 win.
Shortstop Justin Montana singled, drew two walks and scored twice. First baseman Zach Ibarra hit two singles and scored once. Catcher J.C. Cerda walked, singled and scored. Designated hitter David Riojas doubled and scored. Center fielder Justin Diaz singled twice. Third baseman Nate Scott singled, walked and scored on a close play. Right fielder Devin Palm walked twice and scored twice. Pinch hitter Banner Steele singled.
The lack of extra base hits was due to a steady, 10-15 miles-per-hour wind, blowing straight in from that Hill Country vista.
Hays’ Coker didn’t need the wind. His near-perfect delivery yielded only three hits — and went a long way toward sending his team into the regional semifinal round.
How is it that one team has such outstanding pitching?
“Just luck, I guess,” Woodmansee said as Coker nodded in agreement. “All of us have played together since we were kids. Most of us played for the same team. We’re used to playing together, which really helps.”