Van Alstyne 2, Farmersville 0 (9)
If you were watching the Van Alstyne-Farmersville game on March 17 without any rooting interest, you might have said, “It’s too bad someone has to lose a game like this.”
That game in Farmersville, we were told by one who was in attendance, was the best high school baseball game he had ever seen, and he has seen a few.
Farmersville has two excellent pitchers on their staff, both seniors, and Friday’s starter Lyle Hibbits was the district’s pitcher of the year in his sophomore season. Hibbits pitched seven innings, gave up no hits or runs, and struck out 16.
Van Alstyne started this season looking for pitchers to replace a staff hit heavy by graduation. They certainly had a match for Hibbits as sophomore Rhett Gallagher, who has already thrown a no-hitter this season, matched the Farmersville star, pitch for pitch, strikeout for strikeout.
Gallagher worked eight innings, gave up two hits, no runs, and fanned 14. More importantly, he scored the first run of the contest in the top of the ninth, and came home the winner.
Van Alstyne worked out of a jam in the Farmersville sixth when Hibbits led off with a double and was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt.
With one out, a runner on third, Gallagher got his 10th strikeout of the game, then a weak ground ball to first base shut the door on that Farmersville threat. Senior Kale Dunlap had singled to open the second inning for the Farmers, but Gallagher rang up three consecutive strikeouts to keep it scoreless.
Van Alstyne’s biggest early threat came in the fourth inning as Gallagher and senior Luke Hundt drew back-to-back walks.
A couple of strikeouts by Hibbits spoiled that offensive momentum.
In the seventh and eighth innings, Van Alstyne center fielder Scott Taylor made a couple of nice plays on fly balls that looked promising coming off the Farmersville bats, but soon became just loud outs.
The game got away from the Farmers in the ninth, as their senior dominated lineup could not hold up to the pressure.
With two outs, Gallagher walked, then promptly stole second. Hundt singled for the Panthers’ first hit of the game, moving Gallagher to third. A single by sophomore Tyler Wilson brought home Gallagher to break the deadlock, and give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
They didn’t stop there.
Wilson went to second on the throw in, and junior Hunter Hutchison drove him in with another single, putting Van Alstyne on top, 2-0.
Just like daytime TV, the final three outs held considerable drama.
Three consecutive walks by a couple of Van Alstyne pitchers gave the Farmer faithful some hope. It didn’t float as freshman Sam Tormos came on in relief and struck out the side, preserving the win.
Van Alstyne, now 2-1 in district play, has a non-district tilt at home against Pottsboro before hosting Howe on March 24.
Due to take the bump in that one, Rhett Gallagher.