Tuesday afternoon’s baseball game between two of the top teams in the CCS did not disappoint. The No. 6 ranked Leigh Longhorns hosted No. 7 Wilcox Chargers in what turned out to be a game for the ages.
Wilcox would eventually come away with a 12-11 victory in eight innings, earning the win in what was an absolutely thrilling contest that fans of neither team will soon forget.
Wilcox began barreling baseballs right out the gate in this one. Second baseman Patrick Sanchez led off by driving the very first pitch of the game down the right-field line for an opposite-field double. Noel Ramirez would switch places with Sanchez by knocking a double down the same right-field line for an RBI.
The Longhorns responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first, but their one-run lead would also be short lived. In the top of the second, Ryan Hauck and Jaime Daffron each drew a walk, setting the table for the top of the order. Sanchez then launched a three-run home run to left field to put the Chargers back in front at 4-2.
“I definitely did not think I got it,” admitted Sanchez on the homer. “Jam job, right there. I thought it would be a flyout.”
Fortunately for the Chargers, the wind was blowing out and the ball tipped off the left fielder’s glove before falling over the fence. Sanchez would finish this game by reaching base all six times, going 4-for-5 with the homer, two doubles, a single, and an intentional walk. It almost wasn’t enough though.
Wilcox took what appeared to be a commanding 8-2 lead with a four-run fourth, but the Longhorns kept chipping away. Chargers starting pitcher Jesse Hernandez settled in nicely with a scoreless second and third, but Leigh would inch closer with a run in the fourth and a run in the fifth. The Longhorns then exploded with a six-run sixth, taking an 11-8 lead into the seventh. The Chargers now had just three outs left to try and score three runs.
And that’s exactly what they did.
After a sacrifice fly by Alan Ramirez pulled the Chargers to within two runs of Leigh, Gutierrez stepped up to the plate with Wilcox down to their final out. All Gutierrez did was pump a two-run home run over the right-field fence to tie the game up at 11-11.
“Oh yeah, right from when I swung,” remarked Gutierrez on if he knew he got enough of the ball to get it over the fence. “It felt great off the bat.”
Gutierrez’s homer would send the game to the bottom of the seventh where Wilcox turned to Ryan Prettol on the mound. The senior shut the door and sent the game to the eighth inning.
This time around the Chargers offense played a bit of small ball with Noel Ramirez coming up with the clutch RBI walk, drawing a free pass with the bases loaded. Prettol then went back out for the bottom of the eighth and closed out the Longhorns with a three-up, three-down inning to secure the win.
“It’s kind of the style we’ve been doing all year,” remarked Wilcox Head Coach Matt Huth on the win. “We’re a resilient group.”