By Spencer Spilman
The Hays Rebels baseball team was locked in a tough bidistrict playoff battle against the Pflugerville Panthers Thursday.
But a three run sixth inning from Pflugerville allowed the Panthers to defeat Hays 3-2 in the first game of the best-of-three series.
The Rebels face a must-win situation in game two Friday in Pflugerville. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Thursday’s game featured a pitching duel between Hays’ David Riojas and Pflugerville’s Johnny Panatex.
Riojas went the distance and pitched a complete game, while Panatex was taken out after 5.1 innings.
The game was scoreless until Rebels bats came alive in the fourth. Josh Burnett hit a leadoff single and was eventually brought home by a Mike Gonzales RBI-single to put the first run on the board.
Hays added another run in the fifth inning. Hays’ Trey Dickerson hit an RBI-single to bring Brandon Hunter across the plate after he started the inning with a leadoff base hit.
Trouble for the Rebels came in the top of the sixth inning when Pflugerville’s bats came alive. The Panthers used their speed on the base-paths to manufacture runs.
“Those guys were quick,” Riojas said. “They got around the base real fast and we haven’t really seen that in our district.”
With one out, Jacob Mangrum laid down a suicide squeeze bunt with runners on second and third. While Mangrum was thrown out at first base, the runner on third scored easily. Pflugerville’s Stephen Pena, who sped at a full sprint as soon as the ball was pitched, was able to score from second before the throw.
“It was a great high school baseball game and they just executed in a big-time situation,” Hays Coach David Null said.
Hays hit a few balls that reached the warning track in the seventh inning but were unable to extend the game.