FRISCO — After a couple of innings had passed in Game 2 of a regional quarterfinal series between Argyle and Melissa on Friday night, it looked as if Argyle was poised to win the game and advance to the fourth round of the playoffs next week with a sweep.
But an early five-run lead didn’t stand up for Argyle, thanks in large part to a sloppy defensive effort, and Melissa rallied to win the game 12-10.
Game 3 is set for today at noon at Frisco’s Smotherman Field with the winner punching its ticket to the Class 3A Region II semifinals. Argyle will look to bounce back after committing five errors that led to 10 unearned runs for Melissa.
“We didn’t catch groundballs and we didn’t throw them across the infield,” Argyle head coach Ricky Griffin said. “It’s something that, at this point in the season, has to happen. They hit the ball well. I won’t take anything away from them, but we have to play better defense.”
After two Melissa errors helped Argyle take a commanding 5-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, it appeared the Eagles (29-4) might cruise to a win after a dramatic 9-8 victory in Game 1 on Thursday night.
Instead, it turned out, the lead did not even last a full inning as full chaos ensued in the following half-inning on one seemingly routine play.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Argyle starting pitcher Seth Jones had allowed two runs (one earned) and had a chance to kill the Cardinals’ threat and keep the lead. Jones did his job, but his defense didn’t do theirs as a throw from third baseman Davis Coghlan on a grounder from Landon Wilson sailed over the head of first baseman Parker Mushinski and the ball rolled into foul territory in the outfield. Another errant throw into the Melissa dugout on the relay allowed Wilson to cross home plate to score four runs on the errors and give the Cardinals a 6-5 lead.
“He had good stuff,” Griffin said of Jones, his senior lefty, who was charged with just two earned runs on the night in six innings of work. “It’s tough to pitch like that. You feel like you have to strike people out, and that’s not his game. His game is to get groundballs, which he did. We just didn’t take care of him.”
One Cardinals player that did get to Jones, who surrendered 11 hits in six innings, was leadoff hitter Camden Duzenak, who finished the game going 3-for-4, just a single shy of hitting for the cycle and drove in three runs.
Melissa (26-8-1) briefly lost its lead in the bottom of the third inning off one of its eight errors on the night and an RBI groundout from Brandon Boyzuick, but Melissa bounced back in the fourth to take the lead for good.
The Eagles made the game interesting again in the bottom of the seventh inning with three straight RBI hits from Jones, Cutter McDonald and Parker Mushinski before No. 8 hitter Jarryd Byer drew a walk from Zach Torres to load the bases for Brandon Boyzuick, who grounded out to second base to end the game with the winning run stranded at first base.
In all, the Eagles managed 11 hits on the night with eight of those coming off Melissa’s ace Wilson.
“That’s their ace tonight, and we swung it about as good as we can,” Griffin said. “You hope, in that situation, against their ace you ought to win the game. It just didn’t work out for us tonight.”
Now, Argyle is in the odd position of bouncing back from a loss, much less a crushing loss like Friday’s that saw a five-run lead evaporate on one routine groundball.
Griffin said he can’t say for sure how his team will respond when Game 3 begins today, but he said his players seemed upbeat and ready for the challenge, looking to advance past the regional quarterfinal round after falling in the same round last year.
Griffin will send Mushinski to the mound and hope the Eagles’ immense pitching depth, especially for a Class 3A program, will pay off against Melissa.
“When he’s around the plate, he’s tough for anybody to hit,” Griffin said. “We feel good about it going into it, but we didn’t want to have to play on Saturday.”
Griffin said he expects Melissa to throw Cade Cruce in the decisive Game 3, a pitcher the Eagles are familiar with.
“We have a lot of pitching,” Griffin said. “It’s supposed to give us an advantage. You hope that it does. But they’ll have Cruce going, and he’s a decent pitcher. He’s got a good slider. If we hit the ball like we did tonight and play some defense, though, we’re fine.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.
Melissa 12, Argyle 10
Melissa 006 240 0 — 12 13 8
Argyle 322 000 3 — 10 11 5
WP — Landon Wilson. LP — Seth Jones. SV — Zach Torres. 2B — M: Camden Duzenak, Cade Cruce, Grant Meeks. A: Parker Mushinski. 3B — M: Camden Duzenak. A: Dillon Harp. HR — M: Camden Duzenak. Records — Melissa (26-8-1). Argyle (29-4).