EMORY – After opening its Class 3A Region II area round series against Grand Saline with a 10-8 victory on Friday, May 11, the Van Alstyne Panthers were unable to get the second win they needed to advance in the playoff.
Grand Saline swept the double-header on Saturday, May 12, 8-5 after a 4-3 win, to move to the region quarterfinals and face Pottsboro in a series at Wylie East.
In the deciding contest, Rhett Gallagher was 3-for-3 and scored, Samuel Tormos was 2-for-3 and drove in a run, Jordan Velekei singled, drove in a run and scored and Hunter Hutchison, Tyler Wilson and Nathan Cuthbertson all singled and scored for Van Alstyne (17-8), which was playing from behind from the first inning.
Grand Saline took a 3-0 lead in its first turn at bat and then pushed it to 7-0 with four more runs in the second.
Van Alstyne got on the board with a pair of runs in the fourth. Wilson was hit by a pitch to open the frame before a pair of groundouts. Cuthbertson singled and Taylor reached on an error to score a run. Cuthbertson then scored on a wild pitch.
After Grand Saline scored for the final time in the bottom of the inning, Van Alstyne pulled within 8-5 in the top of the fifth. Gallagher started things with a walk and Hutchison reached on an error. Velekei had an RBI single to left before Wilson’s hit loaded the bases.
Tormos had an RBI single to left and Vance Watkins drove in a run on a fielder’s choice to make it 8-5. A chance to continue trimming the deficit ended with a double play.
Gallagher had a two-out single in the sixth but was stranded at first and the Panthers did bring the tying run to the plate in the seventh with two-out hits by Tormos and Watkins before Grand Saline held on to clinch the series.
Grand Saline forced the deciding contest with a 4-3 victory earlier in the day, by scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Wilson was 2-for-3 with two RBI, Hutchison was 2-for-3 and scored and Vance Watkins was 2-for-3 for the Panthers.
The Game was scoreless until Van Alstyne took a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Gallagher walked with one out and Hutchison singled to put runners at the corners. Cuthbertson singled to drive in a run and Wilson had a two-run single.
Grand Saline scored in the bottom of the fourth and then took the lead with its late comeback as all three runs crossed the plate with two outs.
The Panthers had a chance to force extra innings when they put the tying run in scoring position. Watkins led off the seventh with a single and courtesy runner Zack Smith went to second on a groundout. Scott Taylor walked before Grand Saline got the final two outs to hang on.
Watkins drove in four runs as Van Alstyne won the series opener, 10-8, at Allen on Friday night. Hutchison was 2-for-3, drove in a run and scored, Chandler David was 2-for-3 and scored, Taylor singled and drove in two runs and Cuthbertson singled and scored twice for the Panthers.
Van Alstyne scored all nine of its runs from the fourth to sixth innings and broke an eight-all tie in the bottom of the sixth after Grand Saline tied the game with five runs in the top of the inning.
Velekei and Hutchison singled to open the innings and Tyler Wilson walked with one out to load the bases. Watkins grounded into a fielder’s choice to put the Panthers back in front and after the bases were loaded again Taylor singled to make it 10-8.
Grand Saline went in order in the top of the seventh.
The game was tied at one heading to the fourth when Van Alstyne took a 4-1 lead. The Panthers loaded the bases with one out on singles by Cuthbertson and David and Watkins was hit by a pitch. Taylor hit a sac fly, Chase Wilson followed with an RBI single and Gallagher walked to force in a run.
Grand Saline made it 4-3 before the Panthers opened an 8-3 advantage in the bottom of the fifth. Hutchison walked to open the inning and everyone was safe on Cuthbertson’s fielder’s choice. Wilson singled to load the bases and Watkins singled to clear the bases. Smith scored on a wild pitch.