PONDER — By the time Sanger recorded its second out of Friday night’s Class 3A Region II quarterfinal series opener against No. 4 Argyle, the Eagles already had a four-run lead and Sanger starter Ross Scott was pulled after recording just one out.
That’s when Sanger head coach Steve Ford told his team that despite the hole it had dug itself, there was still a lot of game to play.
By the time the Indians recorded the game’s final out, they had snatched a 10-8 victory over Argyle to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. Game 2 will be played at Ponder at noon today, with a possible Game 3 following 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 2.
“With our offense, I told them we had a chance and to keep grinding,” Ford said after a 2-hour, 40-minute game. “They just trusted their teammates. We have a good squad. That first inning — a balk, two hit by pitches, two errors and two two-strike hits — was a bad inning for us. I told them there’d be adversity, they just had to stick through it.”
After it seemed early on that Argyle (25-8-1) would cruise to a victory with Texas Tech signee Parker Mushinski on the mound, the Eagles added just one more run to their total through four innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, Austen Lange’s two-run homer down the left-field line pulled the Indians to within 5-3, and in the fifth inning it got really interesting.
After getting through the first four innings in 58 pitches, Mushinski surrendered two straight four-pitch walks to Sanger’s Nos. 8 and 9 hitters to start the fifth inning before a first-pitch wild pitch to Anthony Escobedo moved the runners to second and third base.
After nine pitches — all balls — in the fifth, Mushinski was finished, and the Indians’ rally picked up.
Escobedo cleared the bases with a two-run double off reliever Quinton Rockwell, and two batters later, the Indians’ top hitter, Ted Wisdom, laced a two-run, opposite-field homer to pull Sanger within 8-7.
Wisdom finished 3-for-3 and a double shy of the cycle before he was intentionally walked on orders from Argyle head coach Ricky Griffin in the bottom of the sixth inning. By then, the Indians had already taken the lead with a two-run single from No. 9 hitter Chance Cockrell and three Argyle errors.
“He just gives us confidence,” Ford said of Wisdom. “He makes it to where our guys know we have a chance. He told me he was going to hit a double [in the sixth], but they intentionally walked him. That was the right decision on their part because he was about to punish the ball again.”
Sanger (25-6) now must face Argyle ace Drew Gooch, a TCU-bound lefty with a 0.43 ERA on the season, in today’s Game 2.
Ford said he could go back to his ace, Scott, in Game 2 as a reliever for starter Logan Looper or Scott would be ready to start a decisive Game 3 after throwing just 31 pitches on Friday.
“That’s exactly why I went and got him,” Ford said. “Logan Looper is our Game 2 starter and Ross is available for that game, or we have him to start Game 3. We’ve got arms. I don’t have Argyle’s pitching depth, but I have kids that will throw strikes and give us a chance.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.
Sanger 10, Argyle 8
WP — Wilding Smith. LP — Hunter Markwardt. S — Anthony Escobedo. 2B — A: Brandon Boyzuick. S: Escobedo. 3B — S: Ted Wisdom. HR — S: Austen Lange, Wisdom.