GC Baseball: Kerens wins 1-0 thriller on wild pitch in Game 1 of Region Semifinals

May 24—MADISONVILLE — Kerens won in a wild-off. That's like a walk-off only wilder, crazier and so so so much sweeter.

Just ask Ryan Priddy, who came flying home with the biggest run of the year (and his life) late Thursday night, scoring in the bottom of the seventh on a wild pitch to give the soaring Bobcats a 1-0 victory over Shelbyville in Game 1 of the 2A Region Semifinals.

Kerens had never been here before — not to the Region Semifinals, not to the near edge of reaching the state tournament — but you would have never known it.

The history-making Bobcats had to sit out a one-hour and 45-minute lightning delay but when they came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh in a gut-checking, nail-biting scoreless game, they came through again.

Priddy ripped a one-out double, moved to third on a passed ball and sailed home (there's evidence that his feet actually hit the ground, but his heart hasn't landed yet).

"That's every kid's dream growing up," Priddy said, "to score the winning run in a game like that."

Go ahead an pinch yourself, Ryan, that was no dream.

He couldn't feel anything after he hit the plate and the Bobcats flew out of the dugout and hit him, mobbing the hero of the game, throwing their arms around Priddy and embracing him and the moment.

"Everybody was going crazy," Priddy said. "They were jumping up and down, hugging, giving high 5s and anything you can think of ... It was crazy!"

There's nothing crazy about this team. The Bobcats play the game right, with old-school discipline, coming through with clutch hits and big defensive plays — and they have simply taken the bats right out of the hands of every team they have faced in the playoffs.

Thursday night's wild win was Kerens' seventh in a row in the 2A playoffs, and the seventh shutout in the playoffs by the Ritchie Twins, who haven't given up a run since before the district season began on March 10.

Rockdale scored March in a 4-0 win to earn a split (Kerens beat Rockdale 2-0 a day earlier) in Kerens' final non-district game and neither of the Twins — Krayton nor Kannon — have allowed a run since.

Kerens has won 21 games in a row, including 19 shutouts and a forfeit. Neches scored two runs in a Mercy Rule 14-2 loss to Kerens on March 19, but those runs didn't come against the Twins. Kerens is now 26-5 for the season.

Krayton and Kannon are pretty quiet and modest about their phenomenal run through the playoffs and it took both of them to nail down Thursday's game. Krayton started and went six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out five.

It was obvious Krayton couldn't come back after the 105-minute delay so Kannon pitched a near perfect seventh, giving up a hit and striking out the side. The Twins have not been scored on over 49 innings in the playoffs, and haven't allowed a run since the Rockdale game on March 9.

The Kerens kids, who had five hits, including Priddy's double, two hits by Layne Lynch and singles from Matt Rikard and Kooper Hill, showed a lot of poise and resilience to score late in a long game after such a taxing layoff.

"It was a big win," Kerens Coach Cole Lancaster said. "We had never been to the fourth round before. We made history (getting to the fourth round) this year.

"It (the late clutch win) showed how mature they are as a team," he said. "We had a long layoff earlier in the year and won the game. We've been through it."

It's Kerens first trip to the Region Semifinals — two series wins away from Round Rock and the state semifinals. Still, that's a long way off and Lancaster and the Bobcats know it. The kids were savvy enough not to let the long layoff affect them Thursday.

"We hung out in the dugout and just talked," Priddy said of the long delay. "Then we went to the bus to sit under the air conditioning."

And they hit the diamond cool and confident despite playing in their closest game in the playoffs and in their tightest game in months against a Shelbyville team that scored 239 runs this season and hadn't been shut out since April 19 in a 1-0 loss to Garrison.

The Dragons scored 25 runs in their two wins over Gary in the Region Quarterfinals last week, including a 16-12 win in Game 3.

Shelbyville (23-6) has a ton of pitching and started their No. 2 pitcher, Dallas Murry, who went 6.1 innings and allowed the run because Priddy doubled off him before Shelbyville's ace, Dylan Parker (5-1, 1.57 ERA with 70 Ks in 38.2 innings) entered and faced two batters before throwing the wild pitch that gave the Bobcats the win.

There's little doubt that the Bobcats will face Parker in Game 2 at 4 p.m. Saturday back at Mustang Field. If Shelbyville wins, Game 3 will follow at 6 p.m.