The playoff run for the Bishop baseball team has come to an end after the Badgers were swept in the Class 3A Regional Finals by the No. 10 ranked Blanco Panthers, 2-0.
“This game will humble you,” Badger coach Mike Medina said. “But you know, my team battled and they played with aggression, they played with hunger and they played with class. I want to tip my cap to coach (Bryan) Wyatt in Blanco. They’re going to represent Region 4 well in the state tournament. But I have no regrets. And, you know, I’m really proud of my ballclub on the year that they had.”
In the opening contest the Badgers began the series with a 2-0 lead in the first inning of play after J.B. Melde hit a line drive to center field that scored Kobe Jaramillo and Niko Garza.
After the first, both teams went scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning.
The Panthers loaded the bases on back-to-back singles and a walk, and Dylan LaRue hit a sacrifice-fly ball to right field to bring in a run for Blanco, 2-1.
Following the top of the fifth, Blanco’s Eddie Calzoncit got a base hit, Jackson Hunter drew a walk and Tyler LaRue was intentionally walked to load the bases again for the Panthers.
Justin Wardlow grounded into a fielder’s choice and the Panthers scored another run to tie the game up.
A hitless sixth inning for both teams put the contest in the final stanza with the score remaining tied.
Tanner Smith and David Garcia drew walks to start the seventh and an error advanced Bryce Long to first.
Garcia was called out before reaching second, and the Badgers had runners on the corners for Cade Dupont.
A.J. Garza, who entered the game to run for Smith, attempted to tag up from third base after Dupont’s pop-up to center field, but was called out at the plate to end the inning.
A lightning storm in the area initiated a nearly two-hour delay, which forced the coaches to agree to continue the contest the next day.
The following afternoon, the Badgers sat three straight batters to begin the day and sent the game into extra innings.
Both teams went scoreless in the eighth and the Badgers stranded a runner to end the top half of the ninth inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, Jaramillo struck out back-to-back batters, but hit Calzoncit to put a runner on for the Panthers.
Hunter then hit a double on a deep ball to left field that allowed Calzoncit to score and give Blanco the first win of the series, 2-3.
Nic Hernandez and Jaramillo both pitched 4 1/3 innings and combined for 10 strikeouts in the game while giving up six hits.
Melde led the charge at the plate with a double for two RBIs, and Criztian Delgado was 1-for-3 while at the plate.
Game two started tight for both teams until the game escaped the Badgers in a five-run seventh inning.
Long started the game on the mound and sat three batters to open the contest for the Badgers.
Hernandez had a base hit and Delgado drew a walk to get two on for the Badgers in the bottom half of the first inning.
Melde hit a liner to left field to bring in Hernandez for the first score of the game.
In the next inning, Blanco’s Baylor Smith drew a walk and stole second base to put the Panthers in scoring position.
Dylan LaRue hit a fly ball to center field that was dropped and allowed Baylor Smith to score and tie the game, 1-1.
Long hit a shallow pop-up over second base to score Delgado for the Badgers in the fourth inning to put the Badgers back in the lead.
The score remained 2-1 until the top of seventh inning, when the Panthers took the lead and scored five runs to seal the 2-6 win, clinching the series sweep.
Coach Medina said the end of the season is difficult to process because of the talent he will have to see leave the team from his core seniors.
“Nic Hernandez, Tanner Smith, David Garcia and William Herrera are four cornerstones of our program and our outfield. They’ll be sorely missed,” Medina said. “I miss them already. So I love those seniors, like I love the 2017, 2018 and now the 2019 seniors. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them.
“This game, you know, you come together for baseball reasons, but you leave with bonds for life. And it’s something that I make sure that I convey to any senior who graduates this program because I am indebted to them for what they do. And the way they persevered throughout their careers. And you know, I only want the best for them as they begin the next chapter of their lives.”
Medina said his team will be stacked with a lot of returning experienced talent next season, and that will prove to be an advantage for his program.
“We’re going to have 14 seniors next year, so it’s going to be a senior led ballclub,” Medina said. “We’ve been to round four in 2017, round five in 2018, and now again, round five. I think with that experience and those scars, it goes without saying, it’s going to be a player-driven team next year. I’m looking forward to the way that they take ownership and accountability of their team. And elite teams are player driven so I’m looking forward to what 2020 brings.”