A bloop and a blast broke the hearts of the Midlothian Heritage baseball team Friday night in a one-game playoff against 4A No. 2 Abilene Wylie.
Despite the sting of the 4-2 loss in walk-off fashion, Heritage head baseball coach Justin Blackwell stated he could not be prouder of the way the Jaguars competed in the 4A Region I area championship.
“They played very hard tonight. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do since we started this year and they believed in what we are talking about, and they tried to do it," said Blackwell, who concluded his first year as the Jaguars skipper. "They executed at a very high-level tonight. Unfortunately, they came up short against a back-to-back state champion. They couldn’t get it done. But, I’m very proud of how they played tonight.”
Bryce Fuller (5-0, 0.98 ERA) limited the Bulldogs to one run on five hits through 6.2 innings. He was one pitch away from a complete-game win with the Jaguars up 2-1 and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning and the bases clear.
Then came the bloop just over the infield off the bat of Cooper Cothran after a Heritage error put Nathan Moore on base. Moore scored on the hit by the ninth hitter in the Bulldogs' lineup.
Fuller recorded the final out of the seventh inning one pitch later with the score tied at two. He finished his outing with four strikeouts and three runs allowed (two earned) on seven hits and no walks.
"He was out of pitches and out of gas," Blackwell said. "He battled his tail off like he has done all year. He has been an unbelievable asset for us. We were playing against a good team, and they got a big hit in the eighth inning. That was the difference in the game.”
The Jaguars sent five batters to the plate in the top of the eighth inning but were caught trying to steal third base for the final out of the frame.
The blast came next.
Wylie's Gatlin Martin recorded his third hit of the game to lead off the bottom half of the eighth inning. With one out, Caleb Munson blasted a walk-off home run to right-center field.
The round-tripper came off Heritage relief pitcher, Trey Bostic (5-2, 1.06 ERA), and was the second of the game for the Bulldogs. Sam King launched the first in the bottom of the third inning to pull Abilene Wylie within one, 2-1.
Cade Sumbler scored the first run for the Jaguars in the top of the first inning after he reached on an error and advanced on back-to-back fielder's choice groundouts. Nathan Gaskamp singled in the second inning and also scored on a fielder's choice. He was moved into scoring position on singles by Brayton McDaniel and Sumbler.
Heritage ended the season with a 20-6 record.
"We still had a great season," Blackwell added. "I’m proud of the kids. I love each and every one of them. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to be with."
Mike Sackett/Daily Light contributed to this report.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith