Senior pitcher Jud Kinzy was in the dugout the last time Guyer won a baseball playoff series, but he played no part in those victories when the Wildcats went a few rounds deep in 2009.
That’s because the son of Guyer head coach Johnny Kinzy was just a coach’s son, cheering on his dad’s team from a premium seat as an eighth-grader.
Saturday’s day was much different, as the younger Kinzy needed just 88 pitches to throw a complete game and help the Wildcats to a 6-3 win over Saginaw to complete a two-game sweep and earn Guyer a bi-district championship in the Class 4A playoffs.
“It’s definitely a stepping stone,” Jud Kinzy said. “Making the playoffs was our first goal this year and our second was to win a series. We have five more goals to get through to make it to a state championship.”
It’s been a significant playoff drought for the Wildcats (16-18), the second seed out of District 5-4A who lost in the first round in 2010 before moving up to Class 5A for two years and falling to Plano in a one-game playoff in 2011 and missing the playoffs last season.
Guyer now moves on to face Cleburne (29-5), the No. 6 team in the latest Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 4A state poll in a best-of-three series set to begin Friday at 7:30 p.m. Game 2 is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, with Game 3, if necessary, to follow. All games are tentatively set to be played at Saginaw.
Seniors Domenic Pickering and Chris Monroe played a large part in making sure the Wildcats advanced on Saturday as both delivered big two-out hits to combine for five of Guyer’s six RBIs on the day.
Pickering struck first in the bottom of the first inning with a two-out RBI double — his first of two doubles on the day — and added a two-run single in the fifth inning to add to a 3-2 Guyer lead.
The day capped a big series for Pickering, as the senior designated hitter finished the two-game set 4-for-7 with four RBIs after a season of peaks and valleys at the plate.
“I definitely think we’ve been going up and down [at the plate], but now it’s finally clicking and it feels good,” said Pickering, the only member of the baseball team who was on Guyer’s state championship football team as a starting defensive tackle. “Playoffs is a different atmosphere. It feels better playing as a team, and it’s pretty much a whole team of seniors. We just came together.”
Johnny Kinzy said he knew Pickering would have some big games at the plate eventually and never considered changing his lineup with Pickering hitting fifth in the order behind Monroe.
“He’s going to come out and compete at the plate and be a good teammate,” Kinzy said. “I never, regardless of what his average was, thought twice about him. I want the guys that will go compete. He’s that guy.”
Monroe had a big hit of his own when he crushed a two-out, two-run home run to left field after Reid Battles reached base on an error to push Guyer’s lead to 3-0 in the third inning.
“We have had a lot of clutch hitting lately,” said Jud Kinzy, who allowed three runs (two earned) on the day. “Our big innings [Friday] night [in Guyer’s 14-0 Game 1 win] were with two outs and the same happened today. We just have the mindset of it’s not over until they get three outs. We just have a really good approach right now.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.