End in an inning

Tigers fall to Whitehouse in final inning of playoff matchup


Emily Meinzer

Senior catcher Trevor Danley encourages senior pitcher Kip Williams in the first playoff game against Whitehouse on Friday.

Story by Anna Graves, Print editor-in-chief

The dampened spirits could be felt throughout the hallways on the Monday following baseball’s loss to Whitehouse in the first round of playoffs. After a 9-4 win on Friday, the team lost two out of a three game series in a game that was determined in the final inning.

After losing the second game with a score of 7-2 on Saturday, the Tigers played the elimination game shortly after. Maintaining a constant lead throughout the entire game, the Tigers entered the bottom half of the 7th inning with a 6-run lead. In that crucial inning, Whitehouse turned around to score 7 runs, ending the game with a score of 9-8 and finishing the season for the Tigers.

“I didn’t want to believe it at first because it was in our grasp,” senior Colton Russell said. “We were holding it. We whooped them the whole game, it wasn’t even close. That’s what we’ve worked for our whole lives, and we lost it.”

After losing the second game 7-2, Russell came in as the starting pitcher in the third game. Russell pitched 6 innings allowing one hit and two walks and threw only 72 pitches. Confusion sparked in many of the players and fans when, after such consistency on the mound, Russell was pulled before the 7th inning and replaced with junior Colby Adkins, the usual closing pitcher.

“Going into it we responded well after losing the second game,” head coach John McClure said. “They really played well. We were in control of that game the entire time. We had talked before the game about how Colton Russell was how we wanted to start it, and he did an outstanding job for us. We made a decision to go with Colby Adkins there in the 7th. That is the way we’ve approached every game.”

It was during Adkins time on the mound, however, that the game took a turn.

“I felt like it was just another day that I would go out there and do what I’ve been doing all year. I’ve been put in that situation 15 times [this year], and I’ve come out successful 15 times,” Adkins said. “I hit the lead off batter. Then I just couldn’t hit the strike zone, and I knew, ‘Something’s up. I’m not in my groove I’m normally in.’ They kept getting hits, and they kept scoring, and I couldn’t find a way to stop it. I was really freaking out. I told Coach, ‘I’m doubting myself. I don’t think I can do it. I think this might be it.’”

As the inning progressed, Whitehouse began to steadily score more runs and decrease the lead that one inning ago seemed so secure. The Tigers were becoming more anxious with every player that crossed home plate, wishing they could do something to stop it.

“It was really tough because I asked both coaches if I could stay in the game,” Russell said. “I wasn’t hurting at all, nothing was feeling bad, and I knew I could get us through it. I just didn’t get the chance. I still had faith in Colby, but it just hurt a lot knowing I’m a senior, and I’ve given everything I’ve had for this team the past four years. I’m a leader and a captain on the team, so I just felt like I deserved to stay in the game.”

The score was 8-4 with one out and bases loaded when a controversial decision from the umpires further elevated Whitehouse’s momentum. A ground ball hit to third was thrown by Russell to senior catcher Trevor Danley. An out was called in favor of Texas High, but was then reversed, giving Whitehouse another run. The umpires are also currently under investigation by UIL and the Texas Association of Sports Officials for suspicion of biased umpiring after senior Kip Williams posted a video of him covering the home plate with dirt after senior JT Morgan’s home run in the second game.

“I caught the ball, went to transfer down to my hand to try and make a fake throw to first, and [I had dropped the ball],” Danley said. “The call was made by the home plate umpire that said [I got the player out]. Well their stands went crazy, and they had been loud and rowdy all game. The umpires went to make [another] call. Two agreed that he was out, but one said no. That was the third base umpire, the guy with the worst view. He had no angle to see that ball, and it was frustrating. I knew that didn’t cost the game, but I just keep thinking, ‘What if that out would’ve been made?’”

Whitehouse progressed with an unstoppable momentum. With spirits crushed in the orange filled dugout, Whitehouse finished the game with a base hit, finalizing the score at 9-8. The shock was overwhelming as the reality slowly set in.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Danley said. “I turned and looked at my dad. Tears were running down my face. I saw Adkins, he was crying. I heard yelling, and I heard us saying, ‘How did we lose?’ because there’s no way. We outplayed them. We out hit them. We played better defense. We didn’t do anything wrong. We played a great game, one of the best games we’ve played all year. We had it. Everyone says, ‘It must be for a reason,’ but why?”

With 12 seniors on this year’s team, the loss was not only the end of a season for Adkins, but was also the realization of losing part of his baseball family.

“It was heartbreaking. I’ve never felt like that because I’ve never played with a group of guys like that,” Adkins said. “We’ve been playing together and against each other since we were probably seven or eight. I wasn’t out there pitching for me. I wasn’t playing for me. Those last three games, they weren’t for me, and they weren’t for the team. They were for those seniors. All those seniors that I’ve grown up with. I love all of them like brothers, and I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything. What we had was special.”

Despite a surprising and crushing end to what was predicted to be a fairly successful run in playoffs, the boys can agree that their experiences have made them stronger on and off the field and will continue to mold them for the rest of their lives.
“You can relate sports to life, and things can turn on a dime very unexpected,” McClure said. “The sad part is, you look back and what you remember is the last thing. It’s hard to wrap your mind around how you have something in your hand, and you let it get away from you. Like anybody, I take a lot of responsibility for it myself. But I think these kids will rebound and be able to move on. I think as time goes on they’ll reflect on the season as a whole instead of those last three outs. This has been an outstanding year for those guys, and I’m very proud.”