Feisty Cardinals drop controversial Game Three to China Spring

Published 12:49 am Sunday, May 28, 2017

MONTGOMERY – For Bridge City Cardinal baseball players and fans, the end of the 2017 season will likely go down as the “Farm Road 105 Robbery” after what took place Saturday night.
Let’s just say that the China Spring Cougars got a “do-over” and took full advantage of it in the Class 4A Region III semifinals at Montgomery High School.
The Cardinals were up 9-8 in Game Three and China Spring had the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Bridge City pitcher Justyn Romero had Cougar catcher Levi Bass down 0-2 and was a strike away from sending the Cardinals to the Class 4A Region III Finals.
Romero rared back, threw a strike right down the “pipe” as the Cardinals erupted in celebration as Bass seemed dejected. However, the umpire called it a ball as the Cardinals and Bridge City fans were in total dismay as Bass and the Cougars got a reprieve.
The rest is history as Romero threw his fourth strike and Bass planted it in right field for a walkoff two-run single for a 10-9 Cougars victory.
The Cougars erupted with joy while the Cardinals were stunned and a brief melee around home plate took place with fisticuffs being exchanged until cooler heads prevailed. There could be some repercussions ahead for both programs as time will tell.
It was a tough game throughout and at least three Bridge City fans were tossed out of the park during the contest.
The Cougars (24-10-1) will now move on to face District 17-4A rival Robinson (29-2) in the Regional Finals to see who will qualify for the State Tournament.
The two teams combined for 41 hits on the day with the Cardinals collecting 24 and the Cougars 17.
What a wild day it was. Coach Chad Landry’s young Cardinals (21-14) battled their hearts out throughout the day, rallying back from several deficits in both games, winning Game Two 10-8 after falling 5-2 in Game One Thursday night.
“What a tough pill to swallow, losing a game like this,” said Landry. “The kids battled and battled and for it to fall the way it did, Man, that was hard. Both teams played so hard. Our kids, they were down several times throughout the day and bless their hearts, they kept pouring everything they had into it and for it to end like this, tough, so very, very tough.”
A deep run to the fourth round of the playoffs was not expected from such a young crew as Landry did one of his best coaching jobs in his many years of leading the program, putting freshmen and sophomores in so many key spots throughout the campaign.
The Cardinals went 5-5 in a rugged District 22-4A to nab the third-place playoff berth and then caught fire in the postseason, including nabbing a series sweep of powerful 22-4A rival Silsbee to reach the fourth round.
“To see these kids improve and work on their craft has been nail-biting and fun at the same time, watching them grow and mature throughout the year and they’re scrappers and gnarly and you gotta love that,” said Landry. “You gotta kind of look at it like four quarters. The first quarter we were still learning how to play. The second quarter we were learning how to play harder. The third quarter we were learning how to win. The fourth quarter was all about putting it together and making a run in the postseason. We were not always pretty and we’re going to be much better with all the experience we’ve gained. They can be proud because the future looks awesome, I just hate it for our four seniors, tough, tough way to go out but we’re super proud of them and what they brought to the team.”
The Redbirds squeaked out a 10-8 victory in Game Two and battled back from a 6-4 deficit in Game Three with a big five-run sixth inning to snare a 9-6 advantage.
Game Three saw nine pitchers – five by the Cardinals and four by the Cougars.
The Cardinals were down 6-4 entering the top of the sixth in Game Three but got it going with a big inning.
Jackson Tims led off with a single past second and moved to second off a sacrifice bunt by Taran Burch. After Gavin Green got hit by a pitch, Schuyler Thibodaux ripped a RBI double to right centerfield.
Logan Hamm tied it up with a single to right and Caleb Dubois put the Cardinals ahead with a double to center that scored Hamm.
Romero belted a RBI triple to deep left to plate Dubois and Kevin Gordon made it 9-6 with a single to right to plate Romero.
The Cougars grabbed a pair of runs back in the bottom of the sixth, getting a sacrifice fly from Payton Spell and Brayden Mathis eventually drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 9-8.
China Spring got it going to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh.
Zane Johnson led off by reaching on an error at third and Blake Golden singled to right and Cougar third baseman Brett Cain, who tortured the Cardinals the whole series, drew an intentional walk to set up Bass and the dramatics. Cain went 5-for-6 on the day with three doubles, a triple and was intentionally walked three times.
The Cardinals jumped on China Spring starter Cameron Jenkins in the top of the first, roping four hits while scoring four runs.
Hamm got it going with a one-out triple to the right field wall and Dubois scored him with a single up the middle.
Romero singled to right and Gordon reached on an error to load the bases. Tims came up huge when he cranked a Jenkins’ offering and planted it in deep right for a three-run triple.
The Cougars scored in the bottom of the frame when Cain stroked a double to left and scored on a Bass single to right.
Carson Bell had a RBI double to left in the third to draw the Cougars to within 4-2.
The Cougars snared a 6-4 lead in the fifth with four runs.
Cain had a double to left and scored off a Bass single to shallow center and Brayden Mathis made it 5-4 with a two-run triple to right and courtesy runner Dalton Hall eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Game Two was nip-and-tuck throughout as well.
The Cougars scored three runs playing small ball in the bottom of the first as the Cardinals had problems with three errors on bunts that led to all three runs.
The Cardinals trimmed it to 3-2 in the top of the third.
Dubois had a one-out single up the middle followed by a Romero walk and a Gordon single to left that loaded the bases.
Luc Hollier reached on an error as Dubois raced in to score and a Tims RBI groundout brought in Romero.
The Cougars went up 5-2 in the bottom of the fourth with Cayden Johnson bringing in a pair of runs with a double that was barely fair by a “hair” down the rightfield line.
Bridge City exploded for six runs in the top of fifth to snag a 8-5 edge.
Romero led off with a single to left and Gordon reached after being nailed by a pitch and Hollier walked to load the bases.
A Tims infield single scored Romero and Gordon scored on a passed ball and Hollier on a wild pitch to tie things up.
Hamm drew a bases-loaded walk as Tims scored and Dubois made the Cougars pay with a two-run single to right.
The Cougars pulled to with 8-6 in the bottom of the fifth with a Bass RBI groundout.
The Cardinals went up 10-6 in the top of the sixth.
Burch had a one-out double to left and Cace Skinner singled to right and Hamm came up with a big two-run double to right.
Payton Spell had a two-out, two-run single for the Cougars in the bottom of the inning.