SAN ANTONIO - Another strong Shiner Comanche baseball season came to a close Saturday as the Comanches dropped the third, and deciding, game of their three-game Class 1A Region IV Final series to Johnson City, 4-1.
Shinerís Blaine Caka makes a diving catch to rob Johnsonís City of a hit in game two of the Class 1A Region IV Finals series in San Antonio Friday. Caka and the Comanches won the game 11-4 but fell to the Eagles in the series, 2-1. photo by Jeremy Weber, special to the Gonzales Inquirer
A gritty pitching performance from junior pitcher Ky Sandelovic, who had started and thrown 123 pitches in game one of the series less than 48 hours earlier, was not enough as the Eagles offense proved to be too much for Shiner to overcome.
Sandelovic held the Eagles to four runs in four innings of action in game three Saturday while relief pitcher Jacob Stafford threw two scoreless innings for the Comanches, but Shiner could not get runs across the plate when they needed them.
"We thought, coming in that pitching was our biggest concern. Our pitchers did an outstanding job for us, though," Shiner head coach Daniel Boedeker said. "We came into game three with Ky knowing that he had just thrown the other day. We were working on an inning by inning basis and he ended up giving us more than we expected and thatís a real credit to him. Then Jacob (Stafford) did a great job of coming in and keeping us in the game, we just didnít come through with the hits for him at the end of the game when we needed them."
The Comanches struggled at the plate throughout the series, hitting just .176 as a team with just 13 hits in 74 at-bats.
Boedeker admitted that his team had been having its share of troubles at the plate of late, but said that he came into the series hoping that his players could get hits when they needed them most.
"When we started the playoffs, we werenít hitting the ball really well and there were some things we were trying to work on," he said. "We kept getting the clutch hits, though, and we were hoping that confidence would carry over throughout the team. We just could never put a lot of hits together in this series."
Johnson City, on the other hand, had little trouble putting the bat on the ball during the three games in San Antonio, hitting .298 against Comanche pitching in the series.
The series got off to a rough start for the Comanches in the first inning of the opening game Thursday evening as Joey Gomez and Wesley Patek reached base to lead off the game but the threat ended when Coy Boedeker hit into a rare triple play.
Johnson City scored a run in the bottom of the inning to take a quick 1-0 lead, but Shiner answered in the top of the third as Donovan Mardis drew a one-out walk and later scored on a singe to short by Gomez.
Shiner took the lead in the top of the fourth as a pair of bases-loaded walks by Eagle pitcher Laramie Blackwell brought home Stafford and Brady Cejka to put the Comanches up 3-1.
The Shiner lead was short-lived, though, as a pair of singles and a double allowed Johnson City to score twice in the bottom of the inning to tie the score at 3-3.
It was all Johnson City from there as the Eagles scored three in the fifth inning and another three in the sixth to pull away for a 9-3 win and a 1-0 series lead.
Errors plagued both teams in game two of the series as Shiner and Johnson City combined for 11 miscues. It was Shiner that took advantage of the situation, though, scoring 11 runs on six hits to grab an 11-4 win to tie the series at 1-1.
After a scoreless opening inning, Shiner got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning as Sandelovic doubled to center, moved to third on a ground ball by Patek and scored on a wild pitch.
The Eagles tied the game in the top of the third as an error and a pair of singles loaded the bases before Cejka misplayed a ball at shortstop that allowed Kris McDonald to score to knot the score at 1-1.
A bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the third gave Shiner back the lead as Matt Pohler scored. Cuatro Rankin followed with a two-RBI double that brought in Caka and Cejka and Shiner led 4-1 after three innings of play.
Errors, walks and timely hitting helped the Comanches all but put the game away with six more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning as Caka, Cejka, Boedeker Rankin, Patek and Pohler all scored in the frame to push the Comanche lead to 10-1.
Shiner added one more run in the sixth as Rankin scored on a wild pitch as the Comanches held of for an 11-4 victory to force a game three.
Gomez picked up the win on the hill for Shiner in game two, giving up four runs (one earned) on nine hits while striking out one and walking five in six innings of work.
Johnson City led the entire way in game three Saturday, grabbing a 1-0 lead with a single, a double and a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the opening inning before scoring two more in the third and one in the fourth to go up 4-0.
Shinerís lone run of the game came in the final inning Stafford led off with a single, moved to second on a ground ball by Gomez and scored on a single to left by Patek.
The Shiner comeback ended there, though, as Mardis and Pohler struck out and Caka grounded out to end the game and the series.
Gomez led the Comanches at the plate in the series, going 3-8 with a pair of RBIs while Rankin was 3-11 with two RBIs.
Luke Neely led Johnson City in the series, batting .556 while Cody Crofts was 4-10 for a .400 batting average. McDonald was also above .300 for the series as he hit 4-11 (.364).
With three seniors on this yearís roster, coach Boedeker said he is hoping that his younger players will remember this series and learn from it for next season.
"We told them (the younger player) to remember this feeling and to remember what all it took to get here, he said. "Now we just have to take that next step and push ourselves just a little bit harder next year."