Big Spring Head Baseball Coach Bert Otto described the Steers' 5-3 win over Wylie on Friday as “icing on the cake” for the five seniors who were honored at Steer Park as they played the final home game of their careers.
Not their final game, however.
The victory guaranteed Big Spring the third District 4-3A playoff seed.
“I thought we played really well,” Otto said of his squad, who finished with a 6-4 district record. “The momentum was on our side. It was a good crowd. They were definitely fueling our kids' adrenaline. For these five seniors, I was happy for them. It feels good that they were able to beat Wylie in their last home game. They have meant a lot to this program over the years. They will definitely be missed.”
The Bulldogs had runners on second and third in each of the first two innings, but junior Adam Franco — who struck out five in a complete-game victory — pitched his way out of the jams.
With no outs in the bottom of the second, Max Pappajohn picked up a base hit, then catcher Joseph Morelion knocked one out of the park to give BSHS a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Karsten Knudson led off with a single, Gunnar Kennedy reached base on a laser to left center and Pappajohn drew a one-out walk to load the bases for the Steers. Morelion connected for what would have been a RBI, but it turned into a doubleplay when Pappajohn slid past the bag at second base and the run by Knudson was called back and the inning ended.
“I told the kids, 'this isn't a battle we are going to win', I've told them before, there's going to be some adversity in games,” Otto said. “We're not just going to go out there and shut out Wylie. And we didn't. And I told the Wylie coach (Clay Martin) we had the utmost respect for its program. He's a good guy. They set the bar.”
A single, a bunt and a RBI triple by Wylie cut the Steers' lead to one, but Franco struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
Three runs in the bottom of the fourth put the game on ice for Big Spring.
Jarred DoPorto was issued a walk, then Brett Brorman advanced him to second on a bunt. Hunter Hill singled Doporto home, giving BSHS a 3-1 advantage. Matthew Yanez belted a triple, scoring Hill and a RBI single by Knudson gave the Steers a 5-1 lead.
Wylie would add a run in the top of the fifth and another in the seventh.
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs (7-3) won the district championship. Sweetwater (7-3) locked up the No. 2 seed.
Not only did the Steers defeat Wylie for the first time in recent history, Otto was glad to get a quality win as they prepare for the postseason.
“I'm glad we beat Wylie to get into the playoffs,” Otto explained. “If we'd lost and Snyder beat Sweetwater, we would have backed in, but now we have some momentum.”
Big Spring will be facing Pecos in the bi-district round. The Steers defeated Pecos in a predistrict outing and Otto predicts the same results this time around.
“I expect to beat Pecos,” he added. “We're going to focus on our hitting in practice, work on putting the ball in play. We want to get those timely hits and go play ball.”
Though the time and place won't be finalized until Monday, Otto said it will likely be a best-of-three series.