Timely hitting. Solid defense. Effective pitching. The Guyer Wildcats had it all Friday night in Game 1 of their Class 4A Region I bi-district playoff series opener against Saginaw.
The Wildcats, getting 11 hits from seven players, and another impressive performance by Daulton Horton on the mound, ran away from Saginaw 12-2 in six innings.
James Farris belted two doubles to drive in a pair of runs, and Riley Wilhoit went 2-for-2 with a double, two RBIs and two walks to highlight a strong playoff opener.
Game 2 of the series is at 1 p.m. today at Saginaw with Game 3, if needed, to follow, and Guyer coach Johnny Kinzy knows the series is far from over.
“We know they’re going to come ready to compete,” Kinzy said. “A lot of things went out way tonight, but we’ve got to be ready to go [today].”
Guyer (16-11) trailed 1-0 early, but came back with four runs in the second inning and never looked back, although Saginaw had some chances but couldn’t capitalize. The Rough Riders (17-14) took a 1-0 lead in the second when Tito Alegria led off with a double, Jacob Valadez walked, and Alegria advanced to third on a ground before scoring on Bryson Hill’s single to left-center. They could have had more, but Horton struck out one and a flyout ended the inning with two runners on.
The Wildcats came back in the bottom half of the inning. Horton was hit by a pitch, Aaron Studdard walked, and Wilhoit delivered a two-run double to put Guyer up 2-1. With two outs, Conner Herriage singled in two more to give the Wildcats a 4-1 lead.
Guyer added a run in the third. Wilhoit and Luke Cullum drew two-out walks, and Wilhoit scored on Zak Koehler’s single to left. Ferris smashed a run-scoring double to deep center in the fourth to push the Wildcats’ lead to 6-1.
Saginaw threatened again in the sixth, loading the bases after leadoff singles by Nick Quintanilla and Adrian Buruato and a one-out single by Alegria. Horton then walked Jacob Valadez to allow a run. Horton struck out the next batter, and the Wildcats got out of the inning on a groundout, leaving three runners stranded.
Guyer closed out the scoring with six runs in the bottom of the sixth, highlighted by Farris’ RBI double down the third-base line and a two-run single by Cullum.
Horton went the distance on the mound, allowing six hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
Guyer swept Saginaw in the bi-district last season and defeated the Rough Riders 15-1 earlier this season in a tournament.
Saginaw coach David Vega knows what his team needs to do.
“This is our opportunity to compete,” he said. “If we want to be the best, we’ve got to beat the best, and that’s the team [Guyer] we’ve got to beat.”
Guyer 12, Saginaw 2 (6)
W — Daulton Horton. L — Morry Watson. 2B — S: Tito Alegria G: Riley Wilhoit, James Farris (2). Records — Saginaw 17-14, Guyer 16-11.