By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Writer
Baseball can be a very, very cruel game.
In the winner-take-all game three at Bronco Field between McKinney Boyd and Lake Highlands, the Wildcats were able to come up with the big hits late in the ballgame to pull off the 8-6 victory and advance on to the area round of the playoffs next week. For the Broncos, the bi-district loss was the earliest exit from the playoffs in the programs three visits, and it also meant saying goodbye to another senior class in front of family and friends.
The big moment of the game came in the top of the sixth inning with the game tied at 6. Boyd relief pitcher Carson Chilton got the first two Wildcat hitters out, but after two base hits put runners at first and third, Lake Highlands center fielder Sean Guion stepped to the plate looking to break the tie. With one swing of the bat Guion crushed it over left fielder Will Hollis, bouncing all the way to the fence while scoring both Wildcat players.
The Broncos weren’t without chances in the bottom of the sixth when they loaded up the bases for second basemen Daniel Cortines. Earlier in the ballgame, Cortines hit an RBI single with runners in scoring position, so with the Wildcats playing their outfield a little deeper than normal, any base hit would have scored two Broncos. Unfortunately for Boyd, Cortines flew out to the center fielder to end the inning, and with both teams going down in order in the seventh inning, Lake Highlands took the game and the series in front of a very stunned Bronco crowd.
“They are a pretty good team,” said Boyd head coach Brandon Milam. “They have a very good hitting lineup top to bottom. They let the ball travel and take it back up the middle. There weren’t any tendencies with any of the hitters, and they were very tough to pitch to because they just didn’t have any weaknesses. They got big hits when they needed it, and when we got guys on we struggled to get the big hit to really cap an inning.
With a lineup that started four underclassmen, Milam and the rest of the coaches understand that the future is bright at Boyd and that this loss will only motivate them even more.
“Yeah, they will only get better. This loss hurts them a little bit, but they see how much it is hurting these seniors right now and they are going to feed off that and make themselves the best they can be,” said Milam. “Baseball can be taken away from you at any moment; some of these seniors right now may not play another baseball game in their life. These young kids see that and it will motivate them.”
One of the parents who was watching the senior players’ emotional reactions on the field said that if you don’t win the state championship, then this is exactly how you feel regardless of what round you made it to. For a senior class that was part of last year’s squad that made it three rounds deep in the tournament, the first round exit on Saturday was extremely difficult to comprehend for both players and parents.
When asked about this senior class, Milam focused not only on what they were able to accomplish on the diamond but what they were able to achieve in the classroom.
“I’m proud of my seniors. We have done a lot with these seniors and gone deep in the playoffs before with these guys, and they have done nothing but leave a good legacy for those young kids. They just made our program better,” said Milam. “They contributed to our program not just with a talent and in-game situations, but also off the field and in the classroom. I’ve never had a group of seniors with a higher GPA. We have some of the brightest kids in that senior class in our entire school.”
Senior Taylor ‘Taco’ Williams threw 4 1/3 innings in the start for the Broncos, giving up six runs while striking out four and only walking one. Chilton was the losing pitcher for Boyd, throwing 1 2/3 innings, giving up 2 runs while striking out one batter. Senior Cameron Sweeney threw the seventh inning for the Broncos and retired the side in order. At the plate, Paxton Larson had 2 RBIs, while Will Hollis, Wesley Beeland, Thommy Nawa, and Daniel Cortines all had one RBI.
The Broncos finished with a record of 24-9, including a second place finish in District 10-5A with a mark of 11-3.