HUTTO – La Grange forced Salado into playing a one-game playoff in the Class 4A bi-bistrict round Thursday night. La Grange’s Leopards allowed Salado’s Eagles to score in only one inning. La Grange needed just one more run in the seventh inning to tie the game.
Senior sidearm pitcher Mac Miller now has one save this season, and it certainly was a huge one for the Eagles, who now advance to play at least one more round.
Salado overcame a 2-0 deficit by exploding for five runs in the fifth inning, then La Grange fought back with two runs against reliever Jacob Wilk and loaded the bases in the seventh before Miller got Ryan Cooper to fly out to right field to preserve the Eagles’ 5-4, white-knuckle victory.
Unblemished since March 10, District 19-4A champion Salado (22-2-2) extended its winning streak to 14 and moved into the area round to battle the winner of the best-of-three China Spring-Athens series. China Spring leads it 1-0 and hosts Game 2 today.
Salado senior left-hander Ryan Oakes (5-1) pitched a one-hitter with 11 strikeouts in a 1-0 win at Lampasas in his last start, but La Grange (14-14) – the No. 4 seed from 20-4A – scored single runs against him in the second and third innings to seize a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Eagles’ lineup couldn’t break through against Leopards righty Cameron Chorens, who pitched out of trouble in the first four innings.
But the Eagles finally got going in the fifth, starting with consecutive singles by Nos. 7-8 hitters Caleb Self and Kade Maedgen before Belton Farr ripped a run-scoring single to left. Oakes’ infield hit tied it and Dalton Hawes stroked a go-ahead RBI single to left, then Salado used Rustin Hale’s bases-loaded walk and Miller’s sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.
Wilk struggled with command in the sixth as La Grange scored twice to pull within 5-4, then put two runners aboard in the seventh.
But Miller relieved and got a groundout and a bases-loaded routine flyout as Salado survived.