PONDER — After suffering a heartbreaking defeat in its Class 3A Region II quarterfinal series opener Friday night, Argyle coach Ricky Griffin had a simple message for his team in advance of Saturday’s Game 2: “If we don’t make the plays, we’re going home.”
Argyle starting pitchers Drew Gooch and Hunter Markwardt combined to allow just four runs in two games on the day, leading the Eagles to 6-3 and 6-2 victories that won the series in three games and ended Sanger’s season.
Argyle (27-8-1) will play Texarkana Pleasant Grove in the Region II semifinals.
Gooch, a TCU commit, entered Game 2 with a 0.43 ERA on the season, but TJ Self crushed a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall for a home run to give the Indians a 2-0 lead in the top of the second.
Gooch helped his own cause in the bottom of the frame, driving home Cutter McDonald with a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit in half. The following inning, Ryley Balch hit a double for Argyle before Brandon Boyzuick found the right field gap with a single to tie the game at 2.
Sanger starter Logan Looper was pulled after allowing four hits and two earned runs in four innings. Wilding Smith came on in relief.
Tanner Boyzuick laced a single to the left-center gap and reached second after the ball took an odd bounce away from Sanger’s Halen Frazier. Boyzuick reached third on a passed ball.
With two outs, Balch hit a routine grounder to second baseman Chance Cockrell. Cockrell’s throw to Self at first base was just off target, so Self had to enter Balch’s running path to get the ball. Balch made contact with Self, who dropped the ball, and Boyzuick was safe at home to give the Eagles their first lead.
Argyle added three runs in the sixth thanks to a walk, an error and a pair of timely hits.
Self drove home pinch hitter Julien Ly, who doubled, with a single in the seventh, but Gooch started a game-ending 1-6-3 double play to even the series up.
Gooch pitched seven innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs while striking out six.
Sanger ace Ross Scott returned to the mound for Game 3 after a short outing in Friday’s opener, and Argyle was aggressive, getting three singles in the opening frame but no runs to show for it.
In the second, Scott walked three batters and hit Tanner Boyzuick to give Argyle a 1-0 lead.
Balch led off the bottom of the third with walk, and Brandon Boyzuick singled on the next pitch. McDonald was nearly hit in the head by a pitch, but he dropped a fly ball down the first base line to score both runners. Tyler Gibson singled home McDonald and stole second before reaching third on Markwardt’s bunt single. Tanner Boyzuick delivered a two-run single that ended Scott’s day.
The senior lasted 2 2/3 innings and surrendered eight hits and six runs in the final start of his career.
“It just wasn’t his weekend,” Sanger coach Steve Ford said. “He’s a senior. He’s been our go-to guy, really, for two years and he knows he can get these guys out, and he didn’t execute his pitches today.”
As for Argyle, Ford said, “They’re going to be champions. They’re tough. That’s a great program.”
The Indians (25-8) battled until the end, scoring two runs in the sixth on an Austen Lange single.
The first run was charged to Markwardt, his only blemish on the day. He pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and one run to an offense that scored 10 on Friday.
“[Friday] night he threw subpar, and he wanted the ball today,” Griffin said. “I said, ‘If you get a chance to redeem yourself [Saturday], do you want to?’ And he said, ‘Give me the ball.’”
Argyle 6, Sanger 3
Logan Looper, Wilding Smith (5), Anthony Escobedo (6), Garrett McLeod (6) and Austen Lange; Drew Gooch and Ryley Balch. W — Gooch. L — Smith. 2B — S: Kyle Link, Julien Ly. A: Cutter McDonald, Balch, Parker Mushinski. HR — S: TJ Self.
Argyle 6, Sanger 2
Ross Scott, Julien Ly (3), Lane Elrod (6) and Roy Hedgecock, Marco Campos (6); Hunter Markwardt, Rixey Boyd (6) and Ryley Balch. W — Markwardt. L — Scott. 3B — A: Cutter McDonald.