HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL: OHS and Midland High reflect on historic series

Apr. 22—After completing a 23-inning game against Midland High, Odessa High head baseball coach Jerod Couch had one word to describe this past weekend's historic contest.

"Exhausting," Couch said with a laugh.

On Saturday, both teams made history by finishing the longest high school baseball game in state history.

One day was not enough to complete game two of the three-game District 2-6A series.

The game originally began Friday at Pressly Field before coming to a halt in the 14th inning due to darkness.

Pressly Field has no lights.

Both teams agreed to finish game two the following day at Zachary Field in Midland which took nine more innings to settle before the Bulldogs won 4-3.

Odessa High currently sits at 14-12 overall, 4-8 in District 2-6A play while Midland High is 19-10, 9-3.

The 23-inning game broke the previous record for the longest high school baseball game in Texas which was a 22-inning game set by McAllen and McAllen Memorial.

"It was a cool experience," Couch said, despite the loss. "I'm proud of the kids and the way they played and competed the whole time. It was one of the best defensive baseball games I've seen in a long time. I was proud of the way the kids played."

It's safe to say that both Couch and Midland High head coach Josh Hulin do not want to be a part of a game that long ever again.

"We made a bunch of great defensive plays and so did Odessa High," Hulin said. "The amount of pitches that were necessary to get out of jams that were executed were incredible. Making routine plays was incredible. ... It was awesome to be a part of it. I never want to be a part of that ever again, but it was still fun."

Both teams were tied at two runs after the fifth inning and neither team would score a run again until nine innings later.

A run by Midland High's Ayden Castillo off a sacrifice gave the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead in the top of the 14th inning Friday before the game came to a halt.

Both teams picked back up on Saturday and the Bronchos tied it back up after a run scored by Zorian Del Real in the bottom of the 14th and the two clubs continued to play.

"It was awesome," Couch said. "It was huge for Zorian to hit a triple and then Bo Rodriguez was able to tie the game on a deep fly ball. It was good to see my kids come out and extend the game like that again."

Midland High's Jacoby Dutchover scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 23rd inning and the Bulldogs managed to hang on for the victory.

As if playing 23 innings wasn't enough, the two teams went into extra innings in their final game of the series which started 30 minutes after game two.

The Bulldogs would also go on to win that game 4-3 after eight innings.

"I'd be happy not to play more extra inning games," Couch said. "It was just another game where our defense played well. Both sides were struggling at the plate, a little bit. It was just another highly-competitive game. It was a fun experience and a fun weekend, but a winning result would've made it better."

For Hulin, it didn't surprise him to see game three go into extra innings.

"I wasn't surprised considering we just played a 23-inning game," Hulin said. "Our guys have done that all year. If you look at the amount of innings over the year, besides the 23-inning game, we've probably played the most innings of anyone in the district. We've played several extra inning games. Our guys dig in and compete and they love it. There's an awareness, especially for the older guys that they're never going to get this game back and they take advantage of it."

So far, the Bulldogs have played four games that have gone into extra innings in district play this season. Three of their district games have come down to the final at bat.

"It's not unusual for us to play until the end," Hulin said.

Neither team has time to reflect much more on this past weekend's series as the final week of the regular season looms ahead.

The Bulldogs already have a spot secured in the state playoffs and will face Permian (14-15-1, 5-7) in a three-game series beginning at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at McCanlies Field.

"We're just focused on playing the next game," Hulin said. "We're excited that we have a playoff spot secured. But we have to focus on playing Permian because they have a good baseball team. If we lose track that the next game is the most important game, then we won't be at our best."

The Bronchos are in crucial situation as they face Midland Legacy (14-15-1, 5-7) beginning with game one at 6 p.m. Thursday in Midland.

Permian, Odessa High and Legacy are all battling for the final two playoff spots.

There are a few different scenarios where the Bronchos can get in the playoffs but a sweep would guarantee a postseason spot for Odessa High.

If the Bronchos fail to get two wins from their series against the Rebels, then it's over.

"It's going to be another one like (last week's) series," Couch said. "Hopefully it doesn't go into extra innings but it'll be highly-competitive. We're both fighting for a spot in the playoffs. It's going to be a competitive series."