SHINER - Shiner coach Daniel Boedeker didn't sense any panic when his team gathered around him before the bottom of the fourth inning in Game 2 of its Class 1A regional semifinal series against Brackettville on Saturday at V.J. Keefe Stadium in San Antonio.
Julian Longoria led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a single in Shiner's 2-1 win over Brackettville in Game 2 of their Class 1A regional semifinal series. The Comanches swept the best-of-three series and advanced to the regional finals against Thorndale. photo by Harry Reese for the Advocate
The Comanches trailed 1-0 and had already left two runners on base and had another thrown out attempting to steal.
"I just told them to think back to the Bremond game," Boedeker said. "I told them we had four more at-bats to take care of things."
Shiner trailed Bremond 1-0 before scoring a run in the fifth inning, two more in the eighth and four in the ninth to win the area playoff game. The Comanches tied Brackettville with a run in the fourth before pushing across the winning run in the eighth to sweep the series and improve to 27-2 while advancing to the regional final against Thorndale (22-3).
The Comanches and Bulldogs will square off for the fourth straight year in postseason play in a best-of-three series at Austin's Burger Center. Game 1 is scheduled for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Game 2 is set for Friday at 7:30 p.m., and Game 3, if necessary, would be played Saturday at 4 p.m.
Shiner's road to the regional final has included a number of close calls, which is not surprising for a team that returned only three full-time and four overall starters from last season. The Comanches have been involved in 14 games decided by four runs or less and have won 13, and they've played eight games decided by three runs or less and have won seven. Four of Shiner's six playoff games have been decided by four runs or less and the Comanches have won all four.
"You've got to play baseball one inning at a time," Boedeker said. "A lot can happen. A lot of teams are capable of a lot of things. I tell them to be patient and good things will happen. We may have a guy who is 0-for-3 with three strikeouts but he could come up with the clutch hit we need."
Boedeker attributes the Comanches ability to deal with pressure to the competition they faced during non-district and district play.
"Our district was very competitive and we played some tough teams prior to district," Boedeker said. "You're getting yourself prepared for the playoffs. That helps us when we're in the situations we've been in now that we're in the playoffs."
Shiner defeated Hallettsville, Yoakum, Boling and Gonzales, all playoff teams, in non-district play. The Comanches dropped their District 28-1A opener to Flatonia before winning their next 14 games.
"Those close games we played helped us learn how to handle the pressure," second baseman D.J. Pustka said. "We've had a lot of young guys step up and take care of their roles. The more you do it, the better you get at it. It starts to come natural."
The Comanches also spend a lot of time working on game-deciding situations in practice.
"We practice all the time like we're in a 2-1 game," third baseman Kevin Patek said. "The coaches do a good job of teaching those things throughout the year. We're used to the pressure that comes with it so we can still have a good time."
With the exception of a Game 2 bi-district loss to Normangee, Shiner has withstood the pressure that exists in the playoffs and celebrated the outcome.
"This has definitely been a tough run but I think that helped us," Boedeker said. "It's helped us gain a little bit of confidence and that's what you need at this level."