FORT WORTH — When Ponder came to bat facing elimination in the bottom of the eighth inning Saturday, it was hard to believe that one inning earlier Grandview was in a similar spot.
The Lions ultimately couldn’t shut the door on Grandview, which avoided a possible Game 3 with two runs in the seventh to tie followed by a five-run eighth to win 11-6 and sweep a Class 2A Region II bi-district series at Saginaw Chisholm Trail.
“We should have won, it’s as simple as that,” Ponder coach Mark Low said. “If we got to a Game 3, I really felt like we could have beat them. We just didn’t close the door.”
With the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth, Kyle Davis put Grandview (23-8) in the lead for good with a two-run single. Chase Goldwater followed with another run-scoring single to push the Zebras’ lead to three. They scored twice more on a passed ball and sacrifice fly for the 11-6 lead.
An inning earlier, the Zebras were trailing 6-4 with one out when Davis, who was trying to steal, scored off an overthrow at third base. With runners on second and third, Zach Smith tied the game on a sacrifice fly, and Grandview held Ponder in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings.
Grandview will play Pottsboro or Van Alstyne in the area round next week. The Zebras cruised to an 11-1 win in Thursday’s Game 1 but trailed the Lions (11-12) for the better part of Saturday’s game.
Ponder finished the game with eight errors — five through the first four innings — but still led 4-2. Even after Grandview rallied with two runs in the top of the fifth to tie the game at 4, the Lions answered with two runs in their half of the fifth on singles by Chase Harris and Carson Knight for a 6-4 lead.
The Lions were held scoreless over the final three innings.
With the score tied at 6, Knight came on in relief of starting pitcher Josh Peterson to open the eighth but walked and hit the first two batters he faced. Low pulled him in favor of Keaton Malcom, who gave up an infield single to Bailey Smith to load the bases with no outs and set up Grandview’s big inning.
Ponder managed just one base runner in the bottom of the eighth off Smith, who came in to pitch the final inning. Smith was credited with the win; he also tossed a four-hit complete game in the series opener.
“It’s just the way this game goes sometimes,” Low said. “It was a good year for us. We had a lot of kids with no varsity experience, and they played hard. That’s a good group to get back next year.”
Grandview 11, Ponder 6 (8)
WP — Zach Smith. LP — Carson Knight. Records — Ponder 11-12; Grandview 23-8