No. 1 Argyle (36-0) advanced to the State Championship with a 14-4 victory over No. 18 Jasper (33-8-1) Wednesday afternoon in a game that was much more competitive than the score indicates.
“That was the toughest run rule game we’ve ever been in,” Argyle head coach Ricky Griffin said. “It was not easy in any inning. Their pitcher found his groove and he made some great pitches that we couldn’t get to.”
Jasper started the game aggressively and scored a run in the top half of the opening frame behind hits by senior Reese Durand and junior Trent Bryant. It was the first run Argyle’s junior pitcher Sean Bolin had given up in the playoffs. But the Eagles responded in a big way in the bottom of the first, tallying five hits and scoring five runs with some help from two Jasper defensive errors.
After the big first, Jasper senior pitcher Michael Soisson shut the Eagles offense down for the next three innings. He recorded consecutive three up, three down innings in the second and third and gave up just one hit in the fourth.
Bolin had similar success after the first. He allowed just two hits and no runs in the next two innings. But after a leadoff walk to senior Victor Williams in the fourth, Griffin pulled Bolin due to blisters on his throwing hand bothering him. Williams went on to score later in the inning.
“The first inning, his fingers were bothering him,” Griffin said of Bolin. “He tried to pitch through it, but then he tried to make an adjustment with his arm angle and that caused him to get out of the strike zone. But he’s done nothing but great things for us this year, we love him.”
Sophomore Tate Van Poppel and junior Chad Ricker pitched in relief for Argyle, throwing for a combined three innings with just three hits and two runs given up.
The potent Eagle offense showed up in the final two innings. Argyle batted through the lineup in the fifth—which they also did in the first—and scored four runs, then scored five in the sixth to enforce the run rule.
Sophomores Alex Gonzales and Cade Merka drove in the clinching runs, coming up big at the bottom of the lineup. Gonzales led Argyle at the plate, going 3-for-4 with four RBI, a double and a triple. Junior Hayden Clearman also had a big game, driving in three runs and scoring three times in a 3-for-4 outing.
“We’re just trying to get the job done, playing for each other,” Gonzales said. “I tried to sit back, trust my mechanics, drive the ball the other way and help the team out any way I can.”
Argyle will play the winner of the second semifinal game between No. 3 Godley and No. 7 Sweeny in the State Championship game on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Disch-Falk Field. The Eagles could become the first team since Lorena in 2003 to win a State Championship with an undefeated record.
THSB Player of the Game: Alex Gonzales, 3-for-4 with 4 RBI, a triple and a double