MISSOURI CITY – Ridge Point went 6-1 during the first three rounds of the UIL state Class 6A baseball playoffs, and their pitching – an overall staff ERA of 1.33 in those six wins – carried their Panthers to victory over Seven Lakes, Stratford and Cy Fair.
Their offense took awhile to catch up. In the first three rounds, the Panthers’ team batting average was .261, including their only loss of the 2019 postseason, a 9-6 defeat in Game 1 vs. Cy Fair.
After three innings of Game 1 at Atascocita Thursday, the Panthers were down 7-2. They were hitless in their first 10 official at-bats.
Starting with the top of the fourth during that game in Humble, the Panthers have hit .325 as a ballclub. They scored 10 straight runs and then held on to win Game 1 vs. the Eagles.
The hits just kept on coming. Not just Panthers’ hits, but Panthers getting hit by Eagles’ pitches. Five Ridge Point batters were plunked a total of eight times in Game 1, and the “King of Pain,” catcher Will Pendergrass, was nicked four times. Throw in five walks and mix thoroughly, and you have completed the recipe for a 12-9 win.
The Atascocita loss was demoralizing for an Eagles team that has reached the playoffs in every one of its 13 varsity seasons under Coach Eric Matthews, but is still chasing their state championship dream. They wasted a 2-for-3, three-RBI night by leadoff man extraordinaire Brice Matthews, who homered off Ridge Point starter Kyle Roosa and also drew two walks.
But with great regret, Brice will remember walking away from second base and toward his team’s dugout twice in Game 1: in the bottom of the sixth, when the Panthers used the “hidden ball” trick to tag him out as he stepped off the bag, and one inning later, when Pendergrass threw him out on a steal attempt to end the game.
Ridge Point reliever Garrett Mitchell (1-0) got the win, and Dylan Bobo earned his second postseason save.
Friday night, back home at Sienna Plantation, the 30-4-1 Panthers had to come back again (twice), but they vanquished Atascocita 7-6 to book a trip to a place they’ve never been before: a regional final. They’ll face Kingwood, Atascocita’s Humble ISD brethren, in a three-game series at the University of Houston’s Schroeder Park starting Thursday night.
Jacob Garcia’s two-out single in the first drove home Matt Thompson and Pendergrass for a 3-1 lead. Trailing 4-3 in the third, a Garcia groundout drove home Preston Steszewski, then Justin Vossos scurried home on a wild pitch to put the Panthers up for good, 5-4.
Two more runs in the fifth were enough to hold off the Eagles. With a 7-4 lead, Panthers’ starter Hayde Key (5-0 in the playoffs) allowed a single and a double to start the seventh. Bobo replaced him and, clinging to a 7-6 lead with runners at the corners and two away, Bobo secured his third playoff save when he induced a Jordan Ginn fly ball to right fielder Tanner Bond. For the second straight series, Bond squeezed the final out.
Kingwood (31-5-2) eliminated Houston Lamar with a two-game sweep at Rice University’s Reckling Park, 7-5 and 8-3.
Listen to live broadcasts of all games in the Ridge Point-Kingwood series by clicking on https://www.spreaker.com/show/fort-bend-sports-powered-by-vype.
You can also listen to VYPE Sports Radio podcasts of all their games, including the Panthers’ Game 1 win over Atascocita Thursday, at the same link.