AUSTIN — The absence of sound between ball and aluminum bat was replaced by College Station’s cheers on Thursday night.
In the eighth inning of the Class 3A baseball state championship game, the 10th walk issued by Argyle’s pitching staff proved to be the one that hurt the most.
The 10th walk scored the go-ahead run as College Station defeated Argyle 5-2 to win the Class 3A title at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin. The Cougars won their first baseball state championship in the school’s second year of existence, while Argyle went home from its first state tournament with second-place medals.
Argyle senior Quinton Rockwell walked College Station junior left fielder Cole Whittlesey with the bases loaded to break the 2-2 tie. The Cougars added two insurance runs in the inning to cement the victory.
Argyle head coach Ricky Griffin said the collective lack of command from the pitching staff was uncharacteristic for his squad.
“That’s not us,” Griffin said. “We kind of pride ourselves on throwing strikes. I don’t know what to say about that.”
Argyle forced the game into extra innings after the Eagles (32-10-1) trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Senior Brandon Boyzuick and junior Cutter McDonald hit two straight singles to start the inning and eventually moved up a base with the Eagles down to their final out.
When Argyle senior left fielder Tyler Gibson hit the ball to third base, Argyle’s championship hopes were all but extinguished.
But the throw to first base took a hop off the turf, and the scoop at first base was bobbled. Boyzuick crossed home plate to tie the game.
But in the top of the eighth, junior Hunter Markwardt walked the first two batters to start the inning. Later, Whittlesey, who was named the game’s most valuable player, was down 0-2 with the bases loaded but battled back to draw a walk and drive in the go-ahead run.
“We didn’t throw strikes in that last inning after we came back and tied it,” Griffin said. “We kept them from rolling the whole game. You give them guys at first and second with no outs by walking the first two, then that’s a recipe for disaster against those guys.”
College Station (35-6-1) won the game despite being outhit 5-4 and committing four errors, including two in the seventh inning.
Early on, both teams weren’t doing much hitting.
College Station junior MacGregor Hines and Argyle senior Parker Mushinski started the game by pitching three scoreless innings. Hines has orally committed to Florida, while Mushinski is headed to Texas Tech.
But in the fourth inning, things started to fall apart for Mushinski.
After Mushinski retired the leadoff batter, he walked the next two batters before Whittlesey stepped up to the plate. With two strikes in the pitch count, Whittlesey dropped a bunt single to score College Station’s first run. The Cougars’ next run scored on a wild pitch.
Mushinski (7-3) threw five wild pitches in the fourth and only lasted 3 2/3 innings. He allowed two earned runs on two hits and five walks.
“I felt fine,” Mushinski said. “I wasn’t nervous. I just didn’t have it. You’re not going to always have it. [It’s terrible] not to have my best game in the state championship.”
Over the course of the two-day tournament, College Station drew 22 walks. Cougars head coach Scott Holder said the team, with six Division I signees and headed to Class 5A next season, knew it could get some breaks if they were patient.
“We’re naturally a very patient team at the plate,” Holder said. “Today, we weren’t going to help [Mushinski] out any. I thought he did a great job for the first three or four innings.”
Hines (9-2) threw 111 pitches in seven innings of work after he threw 15 pitches in an inning of relief work in Wednesday’s semifinal win over Lubbock Cooper in extra innings. He allowed one earned run, struck out four and walked one.
It was the final game for eight Argyle seniors who will graduate today in a special ceremony. While Argyle’s departing class graduated on Wednesday, the eight were leading the baseball team to the best season in school history, a season that was one win short of the state title.
“It’s tough to end the season with a bunch of great guys,” Mushinski said. “We battled. It just didn’t fall our way. The right thing happened for them [College Station]. It happens. We can’t win every game. We just wanted to win this one.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter @Ben_Baby.
College Station 5, Argyle 2
College Station 000 200 03 — 5 4 4
Argyle 000 100 10 — 2 5 2
WP — MacGregor Hines (9-2). LP — Hunter Markwardt (3-5). S — Baylor Rowlett. 2B —Parker Mushinski. Records — College Station 35-6-1, Argyle 32-10-1.