SULPHUR SPRINGS — Down three runs headed to the sixth inning of Saturday’s Game 2 of a Class 3A regional semifinal playoff series, Sanger showed the resilience it’s had all season, clawing back with two runs in sixth and a run in the seventh to tie Atlanta at 4.
With each team scoring one run in the ninth, the Lady Rabbits strung some hits together in the 10th, including a walk-off single, and won 6-5 to sweep the best-of-three series and end Sanger’s season.
“6-5 in 10 innings — you can’t get any closer than that,” Sanger coach Jae McMinn said. “They’re battleships. They never give up. They didn’t give up today. We got ourselves in a big hole, and we just tried to get the ball in play.
“I thought I was going to have to get the therapist down here in the dugout for myself. That’s how tight it was. The team that got the last hit was going to win.”
Much like Lady Rabbits did en route to winning Friday’s Game 1, the Lady Indians were able to use “small ball” to put the first run on the board in the top of the first. A single by leadoff hitter Morgan Turkoly and a walk to Jordan Cason set up back-to-back sacrifice bunts, with senior Savannah Matheus recording an RBI.
After tying the game at 1 on a double steal in the first, the Lady Rabbits scored a run in the second to take the lead. They added two runs in the fourth after Kelly Mardones thought she had struck out Ashlyn Dodson and began to walk toward the dugout. The pitch was called a ball, and Dodson ripped the next pitch to left-center for a single, driving in two runners who had walked, and a 4-1 lead.
In a chaotic top of the sixth, the Lady Indians closed to within 4-3. Cason singled, Jaycee Garza walked and Matheus was hit by a pitch to load the bases for senior Victoria Eakman. Eakman hit the ball to second base, but an error allowed two runs to score.
With the top of Sanger’s lineup leading off the seventh, Turkoly and Cason drew walks and a throwing error by the third baseman allowed Turkoly to score the tying run.
Sanger kept Atlanta from scoring in the bottom of the seventh with the help of a double play.
Garza put the Lady Indians in front 5-4 in the ninth with a single to drive in Turkoly, but a dropped fly in center field gave the Lady Rabbits (27-4) a runner at third who later scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly.
Atlanta won it in the 10th on Dodson’s single.
“To get this far with five starting freshmen is pretty good,” McMinn said. “With the upperclassmen, the freshmen just followed them. To be quite honest, I was very happy with how far we got. Any coach would be, but it was an unexpected pleasure. At the beginning of the season, I didn’t know we’d do as well as we’ve done.”
With the Lady Indians (28-11) losing three seniors, including left fielder Bailey Ferguson, McMinn said she’ll miss their leadership.
“We’re going to be losing a big spot behind the plate in Victoria,” McMinn said. “I’ll be losing Savannah at third base, and over the last month she’s been a vacuum cleaner at third. She’s hit well since the playoffs have started. When one door closes, another door opens, and I’ve got some people that are ready to step in. We’re going to miss those three seniors; they got us this far with their leadership. I’m excited to start again.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.
Atlanta 6, Sanger 5
WP — Jaci Cullins. LP — Morgan Turkoly. 2B — Caroline Cullins.