A sour end for Yoakum after a sweet start
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SEALY - The bottom of the fifth inning started with an intentional walk.
But, thanks to a lot of hits and a little luck, it ended with Sweeny scoring nine runs to erase a 5-0 deficit, propelling the Bulldogs to a 13-6 victory in the Class 3A regional semifinal Game 2 at Sealy on Saturday afternoon.
After being limited to just three hits and two runs over the first four innings, Sweeny exploded for five hits, including an inside-the-park home run, to complete an improbable comeback and advance to face the Boerne-Columbia winner in the regional final.
And it all started with an intentional walk.
Following a 3-for-3 performance that included a pair of home runs in Sweeny's Game 1 win, Yoakum head coach Bobby Nicholson intentionally walked Sweeny catcher Corey Simpson on each of his first four appearances.
The philosophy worked like a charm in the junior's first three at-bats, but, in the fifth inning, it proved to be the catalyst for a Sweeny landslide.
Yoakum led 6-2 entering the bottom half of the inning, but each of Sweeny's first five batters got on base, leading to scores, and the sudden change in momentum caused Yoakum to doubt itself, while simultaneously giving Sweeny reason to believe.
Nicholson, however, did not second guess his decision to walk Simpson.
"We were not going to let him hurt us at all," the coach said. "I don't care if I had to intentionally walk him five out of five times.
"When they made it 6-4, I felt like the wind came out of us a little bit and when they went up 7-6, I felt like (Sweeny) said, 'We gotcha.'"
Nicholson was right.
Following the walk of Simpson and Austin Boyd's stand-up double to start the inning, Sweeny posted consecutive RBI base hits, including Boyd, who scored on a missed tag by Yoakum's catcher at home plate, before Josh Richers hit a two-RBI single that took a high bounce off the fringe surrounding the pitcher's circle to tie the score 6-6.
One batter later, Richers scored on a wild pitch to give Sweeny (29-2) its first lead of the game. Moments later, with runners on first and third base, Boyd returned to the plate and hit an inside-the-park home run to give his team a five-run advantage, 11-6.
"We played the first four innings like we should play every game," Yoakum senior Adam Hunter said. "We came out and we knocked them in the mouth.
"It should have been great, but we let errors and stuff affect us."
Yoakum jumped out to an early advantage thanks to Hunter's RBI single in the top of the first, scoring Keith Ratley.
In the second inning, Yoakum (23-9) built on its lead with another big hit from Hunter. After sending two runs across the plate, the senior connected on a single to score another pair of runners, making the score 5-0 after two innings.
The score held until the bottom of the fourth inning, when Sweeny finally began to show some life.
Sweeny right fielder Kyle Kluttz initiated a comeback by hitting in Michael Ferrel and, one batter later, Travis Johnson hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Trevor Rowlett, pulling Sweeny within three runs, 5-2, heading into the fifth inning.
Sweeny completed the rally in the following inning with its nine-run outburst and added the game's final two runs in the sixth.
The defeat ends the high school careers of eight Yoakum players, including Hunter, who was 3 for 4 with three RBIs in the loss.
"(The seniors) do what you ask them to do," Nicholson said. "You don't have to worry about grades; you don't have to worry about misbehaving or curfew. They are just good kids.
"We don't have any awesome players, but they just work well together and do things right, and they were very fundamentally sound. That's all a coach can ask for."
Class 3A Regional Semifinal
Sweeny 13, Yoakum 6
Yoakum 140 010 0 - 6 10 2
Sweeny 000 292 x - 13 10 2
W: Josh Richers. L: Timmy Blakeney. HOME RUNS: (Swe) Austin Boyd. DOUBLES: (Swe) Austin Boyd, Jordan Limas. STATS: (Swe) Austin Boyd 2-4, 2 runs, 3 RBI; Kyle Kluttz 3-3, 2 runs, RBI; Jordan Limas 2-3, 2 RBI. (Yoa) Keith Ratley 2-3, 2 runs, RBI; Adam Hunter 3-4, 3 RBI; Reagan Jacobs 1-4, RBI. RECORDS: Sweeny 29-2, Yoakum 23-9. NOTES: Sweeny advances to play Boerne-Columbia series winner.