FRISCO — Argyle inflicted the most damage against Melissa by keeping its bats hovering around their shoulders instead of around the plate.
On Thursday night at Frisco’s Smotherman Field, Argyle didn’t use big hits to come away with the 9-8 victory over Melissa in Game 1 of the Class 3A Region II quarterfinal best-of-three series. Instead, the Eagles took advantage of five walks to score four runs in the sixth inning for the victory.
Melissa’s pitching staff allowed 10 walks, spoiling a strong offensive showing and allowing Argyle to pick up the pivotal series-opening win.
Argyle head coach Ricky Griffin said he didn’t preach patience between innings. He said he instead merely implored his team to raise its level of play.
“Really, I just came over here and chewed their butt out,” Griffin said. “I just told them, ‘You gotta compete. They’re taking it to you. You gotta compete.’ And they did.”
“… It wasn’t any great speech of mine that did anything. It was just the fact that, teenage boys, sometimes they go through the motions. They don’t realize that they’re sitting back and taking a butt-kicking.”
After the pep talk, the Eagles combined to score eight runs over the fifth and six innings to pick up the win over Melissa, newcomers to Class 3A this season and the District 12-3A champions.
Game 2 of the series is scheduled for 7:30 p.m today at Frisco. If the Eagles (29-3) can’t win tonight, Game 3 will be on at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Frisco.
Prior to the team’s self-realization of its own shortcomings, the Cardinals (25-8) chased Argyle starting pitcher Drew Gooch out of the game.
In four innings, Gooch managed to quickly pick up two outs but struggled to get the third out to get him off the mound and his team off the field. On two occasions, the Eagles paid dearly.
In the third inning, Melissa capitalized on an error, and third baseman Chris Smith blasted a two-run, two-out homer over the tall left-field wall. Cardinals shortstop Cade Cruce did the same thing in the fourth inning. That was it for Gooch.
After the game, Griffin said his ace was battling illness and asked to be removed from the contest.
“Gooch was sick before we put him out there,” Griffin said. “He felt like he could do it, and he just got weaker. He came to me and said, ‘I’ve got to come out.’ And I can tell you he’ll never do that unless something’s wrong. He’s been a warrior for us.”
Luckily for Griffin and Gooch, Argyle’s bats excelled by doing just enough and capitalizing on the 10 walks issued by Cardinals pitching.
Melissa head coach Joe Williamson said the walks weren’t because of a small strike zone but instead caused by his team’s inability to find the plate.
In the pivotal sixth inning, Melissa’s Corey Regan came on in relief of starter Camden Duzenack. Regan walked three batters and allowed a single, prompting Williams to relieve Regan with Grant Meeks.
“When you have 10 walks against a team like Argyle, you will lose almost every time,” Williams said.
Tyler Gibson went 3-for-4 with a double, walk and a run scored to lead the Eagles at the plate. Brandon Boyzuick pitched the final two innings for Argyle and picked up the win, despite having not thrown since before district play started.
Boyzuick said the win reduces the degree of difficulty for today’s game, but the Eagles still understand what needs to be done to close out the series and move past the regional quarterfinals, something it couldn’t do last season.
“It makes things a lot easier on us,” Boyzuick said. “But we still have to come out here and compete. They’re not going to hand it to us, even though we have the momentum.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter @Ben_Baby.
Argyle 9, Melissa 8
WP — Brandon Boyzuick (2-0). LP — Cory Regan (5-1). 2B: A — Tyler Gibson. HR — M: Cade Cruce, Chris Smith. Records — Argyle (29-3), Melissa (25-8).