A walk-off, game-winning RBI single from senior Nick Gullo gave the Dripping Springs Tigers May 16 the leg-up in its best-of-3 regional quarterfinal series with the Kerrville Tivy Antlers.
But Antler arms got the last word as they shut down Tiger bats over the next 14 total frames to eliminate Dripping Springs from the postseason.
Dripping Springs opened the series with a dramatic 2-1 win, guided by Gullo’s game-winning base hit that scored Ty Kaatz, who reached base on an error.
“We knew he had speed on the base and it was just going to take any type of a hit and we were going to try it and go for the plate,” Tiger head coach Chris Payne said. “He (Gullo) has been clutch for us all year long, he’s a senior. He’s got leadership and he comes through when he needs to come through for the rest of the team.”
Dripping Springs trailed 1-0 for the majority of Game 1 until a bases loaded balk in the sixth inning tied the score and gave the Tigers some momentum heading into the final frame. A throwing error by Tivy on a routine play to first base with two outs in the bottom of the seventh gave Dripping Springs an opportunity to steal the game with a baserunner now in scoring position.
With two outs and two strikes, Gullo looked towards the dugout and saw his teammates doing a ‘crab wave’ with claw hand movements. It was in that moment that he knew the team had faith in him to make the game winning hit, which he then delivered with a slicing hit up the middle.
“My mind was just blank, I was just looking to get a pitch that I could hit at all,” said Gullo. “You know I hit a little dink up the middle, and, I don’t know, everything is history right there.”
Not only was Gullo the hero at the plate, but he was also the winning pitcher in Game 1 for the Tigers. He pitched a complete game while only giving up one run on four hits and two walks, and striking out five Antler batters.
The Antlers got to Gullo earlier in the game scoring one run off a triple to right field in the top of the second, but Gullo adjusted and settled in to only give up one hit in the final four innings.
“I realized I couldn’t throw anymore first pitch fastballs because they were all sitting on my fastball,” Gullo said. “So I started working on my changeup a lot more, getting them off balance and it worked a lot better throughout the game.”
However, Dripping Springs’ offense was limited to two total hits in a 3-0 Game 2 loss in Kerrville. Tivy countered with a three-run fourth frame, which provided them all the offense they needed against Game 2 starter RJ Cabela, who gave up five hits and struck out two in the loss.
Tivy took that momentum into Game 3 when they scattered eight hits in a 5-0 Game 3 victory. Dripping Springs’ offense was limited to only one base hit from sophomore Cameron O’Banan in Game 3.
Dripping Springs finished the season with a 25-13-1 record.