FORT WORTH — The way Guyer’s final game of the 2013 season ended could not have been more frustrating for head coach Johnny Kinzy or his program.
But given the way Saturday’s Game 2 of a 4A Region I area-round series with Cleburne had gone, it also could not have been more fitting as Guyer’s season came to an end with a 13-1 loss to the Yellow Jackets, last year’s Class 4A runners-up.
Down 12 runs and trying to push some more runs across in the final inning, the Wildcats had runners on first and second base with two outs for leadoff hitter Jud Kinzy.
Kinzy hit a grounder to second base, but when Cleburne second baseman flipped the ball to shortstop Daniel Richardson for what would have been the final out, the ball fell out of Richardson’s glove as Guyer’s Kyle Walsh was safe at second base. But Walsh started jogging back to the dugout, thinking his season was finished, and was tagged out for the game’s final out.
“You have to make the routine plays,” said Johnny Kinzy, the eighth-year head coach for Guyer. “It cost us.”
That was the story of the day for the Wildcats (16-20), who finished the season as the second seed from District 5-4A and swept Saginaw in the bi-district round last week before being swept by Cleburne (31-5).
Guyer committed seven errors in the field and managed just five hits against Cleburne sophomore Tyler Fowler, with two of those hits coming in the final inning.
The Wildcats had only six hits, with four coming in one inning, in Friday night’s series-opening 4-2 loss to fellow sophomore starter Dylan Schneider.
“They mixed well enough,” Kinzy said. “He [Fowler] had a good fastball that he located well. He had a good curveball that he mixed well enough to keep us off-balance.”
Guyer got off to a rough start as starting pitcher Kyle Vochoska threw 28 pitches and walked two batters, but the Yellow Jackets managed only one run in the inning to keep Guyer in good striking distance.
The third inning wasn’t as kind to the Wildcats.
Cleburne sent all nine hitters to the plate and collected three singles, a walk and a hit batsman along with an error. The big blow came on a two-run single from Quade Coward to push the Yellow Jackets’ lead to 6-0. Coward finished the day 4-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored.
“We allowed the five-run big inning which opened it up, and after that our composure got the best of us,” Kinzy said. “In a big game against a good team, you make a couple of mistakes and it’s a snowball effect after that.”
Vochoska was pulled with two outs in the fifth inning after 72 pitches, and the Yellow Jackets wasted no time jumping on reliever Kegan Branum, scoring seven more runs over the final three innings — five charged to Branum.
Guyer’s pitchers weren’t helped by an uncharacteristic defensive effort unlike one Kinzy can recall seeing.
“It just happened,” he said. “I don’t think we made hardly seven errors in district play. I guarantee we never made more than two in one game. That’s a good baseball team. They put the pressure on us, and it got the best of us.”
It was a tough pill to swallow for a senior class that had a lot to do with Guyer’s success, including its first playoff series victory since 2009.
“It’s a special group,” Kinzy said of his 10 seniors, six of whom were starters including his son, Jud. “A whole bunch of guys that just stayed with it, and I knew every day we showed up, they were ready to work. Every time we played a game, they expected to win. They’re going to be dearly missed. They set a high bar for the classes to come after them.
“Like I told them at the end, 13-1 doesn’t represent this senior class at all. We competed throughout district play and into the tiebreaker games and last week’s playoff games. It was just one of those days, and unfortunately one of those days got us eliminated.”
Cleburne 13, Guyer 1
WP — Tyler Fowler (9-2). LP — Kyle Vochoska. 2B – C: Tyler Fowler, Quade Coward. Records — Cleburne (31-5). Guyer (16-20).