MIDLOTHIAN — A strong relay throw, a few tense moments and a walk-off single kept Ryan from extending its season another week.
With one out, the bases loaded and the score tied at 3 in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday, Waco Midway’s Harrison Miner hit a ball into left-center field, driving in the game-winning run in a 4-3 decision over Ryan.
Miner’s walk-off single eliminated Ryan (24-12) from the playoffs and gave Midway a sweep in their best-of-three Class 4A Region I semifinal series. It was the deepest Ryan, the District 4-4A champion, had been in the playoffs since reaching the state championship game in 2003 and 2004.
Both schools will move up to Class 5A next season.
“We had guys on and had some opportunities to score, but we couldn’t quite find that big hit at the right time,” Ryan head coach Bret Warnack said.
Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Ryan had the bases loaded with nobody out and had chased Midway starting pitcher Patrick Herbelin from the game. Kelly Liles came on in relief and picked up two outs before Mitchell Bridges stepped up to the plate.
With both student sections standing as the wind blew in from left field, Bridges hit a 3-2 pitch into left field and the ball just touched the foul line to be ruled fair.
The ball went into the corner as two Ryan runners came around to score. Nic Borth had been on first base, and Warnack emphatically waved him home for the potential go-ahead run.
But Midway left fielder Jeff Back threw the ball to shortstop Kramer Robertson, who fired it home to Miner, the catcher.
The throw beat a sliding Borth to the plate. Liles got Hunter Whitlock to strike out swinging to keep the score tied and strand Bridges at third base.
“That was huge,” Midway head coach Paul Offill said. “That was the play of the game.”
Whitlock struggled at the plate, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Tanner Whitlock, Hunter’s twin brother, went 0-for-3 with a walk.
With 53 hits on the season, Tanner Whitlock broke Austin Jackson’s school record for hits. Jackson, now with the Detroit Tigers, had 49 hits in 2003.
For the second straight game, Ryan was forced to fight back from an early deficit. Midway (28-10) scored three runs in the first inning to go ahead 3-0.
Ryan scratched out a run in the fourth inning when starting pitcher Travis Wiley singled up the middle to cut the gap to two runs. Wiley led Ryan at the plate, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Ryan had the bases loaded in the fourth, but Herbelin got Brady Burger to strike out swinging on a pitch well outside the strike zone.
Ryan left seven runners stranded in the game.
Wiley (4-4) pitched his fifth complete game of the season. Wiley said his arm was not tired going into the seventh inning, and Warnack had no intentions of pulling his starting pitcher. After Wiley gave up the three runs in the first, the senior held Midway scoreless until Miner’s walk-off single.
Robertson, Midway’s junior shortstop who has orally committed to LSU, went 2-for-4 for the second straight game and doubled in the seventh inning to start the Panthers’ winning rally.
Following the game, Wiley described Ryan’s season.
“Breathtaking,” Wiley said. “It was great. I didn’t expect us to get this far. It was one hell of a year.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Waco Midway 4, Ryan 3
Ryan 000 102 0 — 3 6 1
Midway 300 000 1 — 4 8 0
WP — Kelly Liles. LP — Travis Wiley (4-4). 2B — R: Mitchell Bridges, Travis Wiley. M: Dustin Vasek, Kramer Robertson, Dustin Vasek.