FORT WORTH — Judging by the way Friday night’s series opener between Cleburne and Guyer started, it seemed as though Cleburne, the No. 6 team in the Class 4A state poll, was just destined to chalk up an easy win over the Wildcats in a Class 4A Region I area round game at Saginaw.
But as the night went on and Guyer starting pitcher Jud Kinzy settled in, the Yellow Jackets won the game 4-2 playing crisp playoff baseball, the kind that had them in the Class 4A state final a year ago.
Now, Guyer (16-19) has its back against the wall heading into today’s do-or-die Game 2 at 1 p.m. at Saginaw, with a win in that game forcing a potential Game 3 later in the day.
“You have to play for a run every inning,” Guyer head coach Johnny Kinzy said. “The difference in the game was them getting two one-run innings. We left men on base and we didn’t get the leadoff man on. Some of the things we’ve done the last two weeks is two-out hitting, but give their kid [pitcher Dylan Schneider] credit. He’s good. He’s undefeated for a reason. We’re looking forward to [today].”
The Yellow Jackets (30-5) jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after one inning as they piled up four of their 11 hits off Jud Kinzy, but after that the senior right-hander settled in and his offensive teammates got the Wildcats back into the game.
Guyer came back to score two runs in the top of the fourth inning to tie the game off four straight singles to lead the inning off against Cleburne’s sophomore ace, who struck out five with no walks. Those four hits in one inning were a big chunk of the Wildcats’ six hits on the night.
The Wildcats got on the board on an errant throw from Cleburne catcher Logan Runyon to score Cole Wessling before Chris Monroe’s single to right field scored catcher Reid Battles to tie the game.
But the deadlock didn’t last long, as Cleburne came back to score a run in each of the next two innings for the win, the fourth run coming on a sacrifice fly to right field in the bottom of the fifth inning.
If not for some stellar defensive play by the Wildcats, the score could have been more lopsided as Battles had three putouts of his own from behind the plate while also getting an inning-ending double play and a third out at the plate to end the fourth inning with just one run allowed.
“One solid constant for us all year has been our defense,” Johnny Kinzy said. “We booted a couple of balls here and there, but we also made some big plays to make up for it.”
The Wildcats must win Game 2 with senior right-hander Kyle Vochoska on the mound, and with Cleburne’s ace (Schneider) out of the way, Kinzy said anything is possible, especially with the way Vochoska has pitched recently.
“We’re just fighting for our lives,” Guyer’s head coach said. “We want to keep playing. If we want to keep playing we have to win two games tomorrow [today]. In a three-game series, that happens all the time.
“We’re ready to get Kyle on the hill. He’s been throwing extremely well lately so I like our chances in that game. Then we’ll get after them in Game 3.”
Cleburne 4, Guyer 2
Guyer 000 200 0 — 2 6 2
Cleburne 200 110 x — 4 11 1
WP — Dylan Schneider. LP — Jud Kinzy. 2B – C: Nick Woodall, Tyler Fowler, Dylan Schneider. Records — Cleburne (30-5). Guyer (16-19).