WO-S falls short of state title
By Van Wade
The Orange Leader
AUSTIN – It will be a season the West Orange-Stark baseball team will remember for a lifetime and a host of teammates to share it with forever despite coming up just short to the Argyle Eagles 7-3 in the Class 4A State Championship Game Thursday at Disch-Falk Field at The University of Texas.
The Eagles (30-7) scored five of their runs in the second inning and received a complete-game six-hitter from sophomore Connor Mushinski.
The Mustangs (27-11) rallied from a 5-0 deficit to trim it to 5-1 and were able to tack on a pair of runs after trailing 7-1 as they battled to the end.
“It did not end the way we wanted it to end,” said Mustang coach Shea Landry. “I feel really bad for our 10 seniors because they’ve been a wonderful group and put this program on the map again. When they were freshmen and sophomores, they won eight games and nine games and were able to win 21 last year and 27 this year. They can hold their heads up high, they are the second best Class 4A team in the state, they can prove that with the medals around their necks.”
The Mustangs made plenty of contact off Mushinski. He had just two strikeouts and walked two but the Eagles played excellent defense.
The Eagles collected eight hits on the night but also took advantage of seven Mustang errors.
“We put the ball in play, we just hit it right at people,” said Landry. “They (Argyle) made the plays they had to make in the field and we struggled with errors. We were flawless in the win Wednesday against El Campo but it wasn’t meant to be today. Some of the plays, the kids were trying to hard to make the tough play on some well-hit balls. Give Argyle credit, they’ve got some good bats.”
The Eagles clawed their way to five runs on four hits in the top of the second.
Rixey Boyd got on with one out after an error of a grounder to the mound by Mustang starter Jack Dallas that was misthrown to first. Mushinski singled to right and after an error in right by Chase Rutledge, both runners moved to second and third. Seth Green loaded the bases after a walk.
The Eagles then planted three straight RBI singles to rightfield. Hunter Markwardt brought in Boyd to make it 1-0. Tanner Boyzuick scored Mushinski for the second run and Green was able to dart home on a passed ball. Cutter McDonald then slapped a two-run single to left to make it 5-0.
Grant Anderson replaced Dallas on the Mustang hill. Dallas worked 1 1/3 innings, allowing five hits while fanning one and walking two.
Anderson tossed the final 5 2/3 innings, allowing three hits while striking out three and walking one.
For the Eagles, it was a special victory indeed. Argyle reached the state title game a year ago, only to lose to College Station in eight grueling innings 5-2.
“To come so close last year, this team was on a mission and we’re so thrilled with the way the kids responded all season long,” said Argyle coach Ricky Griffin. “They made so many key plays the last two days and throughout the playoffs. We got behind in the semifinals but rallied back for that win. It was nice to get that early lead today and it took a little pressure off. We knew West Orange-Stark was a team that never backed down and they showed it again today but we were able to make the key plays at the plate and big defensive plays that really helped us to win the title.”
The Mustangs trimmed the Eagles’ lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the second.
Rutledge stroked a single to left and Ryan Ragsdale “tattooed” a deep double over leftfielder Watson Timmons’ head to bring in Rutledge.
Argyle scratched in a run in the top of the fourth. Green reached first on a throwing error of a grounder and zipped to second on a Markwardt groundout and eventually scored off a McDonald single to left.
The Eagles punched in a run in the top of the sixth.
Mushinski helped himself out when he crushed a leadoff double off the rightfield fence. Green moved Mushinski to third with a sacrifice bunt and Markwardt made it 7-1 with a RBI single to shallow center.
WO-S rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Payton Robertson led off with a single to left and went to second on a Grant Anderson groundout. Robertson scored when Dallas hit a tough grounder to shortstop Boyzuick, who made an errant throw to first to trim it to 7-2. Aidan Anderson followed with a deep double to right, moving Dallas to third. Dallas was able to score when Rutledge brought him in with a sacrifice fly to center.
Anderson found his way to third on an error and Ragsdale and Kalen Garrett drew consecutive walks to load the bases. Mushinski got out of the tough jam by getting Chad Dallas to groundout on a tough play at first base.
“We made a good run at them to get back in it,” said Landry. “That’s been the thing about these kids all year, they just keep fighting and fighting.”
In the top of the first, the Eagles put two runners in scoring position but came away empty-handed.
Cutter McDonald roped a two-out single to right and swiped second base and Ryley Balch followed with a walk. Both advanced a base on a double steal but Dallas calmly mowed down Danny-David Linahan.
WO-S put a runner at third in the bottom of the third.
KJ Miller drew a one-out walk and Robertson slapped a single to left. Grant Anderson hit into a fielder’s choice, forcing Robertson out at second as Miller took third. Mushinski got out of it by getting Dallas to ground out to second.
The Mustangs were sad after the contest for sure, but Landry and assistant coaches Stephen Westbrook and Ryan Pickering did their best to lift their spirits.
“It’s going to take awhile for them to get over it because this kind of loss stings when you reach this level,” said Landry. “At the end of the day though, they were playing for a 4A State Championship and only two teams can say that.”