COLLEYVILLE – The Midlothian Panthers baseball team’s great season came to an end Saturday afternoon in a double-header loss to Colleyville Heritage.
The Panthers took game one of the best-of-three second round series 15-6 Friday night thanks to a big sixth inning. But Midlothian’s bats couldn’t solve Heritage’s pitching Saturday as the Panthers fell 9-0 and 8-3.
“After we won game one, our kids came out really focused today and ready to play,” Midlothian coach Ray Hydes said. “But their first pitcher nearly no-hit us in the first game and that gave them all the momentum, and we couldn’t get anything going in the last game.”
In Saturday’s first game, the Panthers didn’t get a hit until one out in the seventh inning when Zach Humphreys lined a single to right field. But by then, the game was already out of hand as Heritage took advantage of three Midlothian errors and eight walks to score three times in the third and six times in the sixth.
“We walked way too many guys today. And that’s a team we can’t give second and third chances to with errors,” Hydes said. “You’ve really got to tip your hat to them for coming out ready to play and doing what they had to do today.”
Following a break about 30 minutes long, the two teams took the field again in Colleyville and had another pitcher’s duel through two innings.
Jimmy Fouse finally broke through for the Panthers with a deep fly ball to right field. The defender misjudged it and it sailed over his head. Fouse, hustling out of the box, advanced all the way to third. But two bad throws by Heritage on the play allowed Fouse to come all the way around to score and give Midlothian a quick 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately that lead didn’t last long as Heritage took the lead for good with four runs in the bottom of the third. A pair of one-out walks then two singles and a triple allowed the four runs to score.
Midlothian got one run back in the fifth when Matt Heck doubled to right field and Tanner Dickerson followed that with a single to left to make it 4-2.
But once again, Heritage responded immediately with a three-spot in the bottom of the inning. Three singles and a pair of errors allowed Heritage to put the game away for good.
Midlothian kept battling and scored in the top of the seventh when Heck scored on an error, but the game and season ended with runners on second and third.
Despite the struggles on the year’s final day, this really was a strong season for Midlothian. The Panthers (24-9-1, 12-2 in 7-5A) won their first-ever 5A district title.
“We came into this year after losing 13 seniors and not really knowing what we had,” Hydes said. “So if you told me that we would have that record and make it to the second round of the playoffs, I would have taken it.”
This year, the Panthers are only losing four seniors, so the future is still very bright to build on the success that was this season.
“We’ve got a strong group coming back. We had some kids that really stepped up and did some tremendous things that we didn’t expect,” Hydes said. “This is just our third year in 5A and these kids played hard all year and I think this is going to just keep building this program.”
Heritage also eliminated the Panthers in the first round of the playoffs a year ago. This year was the first time that Midlothian won a 5A playoff game with a 17-2 win against Killeen Shoemaker at Baylor in the first round.
In the game one win against Heritage, Hydes got his 300th career victory, but he didn’t really want to talk about it and said that it’s more about the kids than himself.
“I do this to work with the kids and help make them better,” an emotional Hydes said. “I couldn’t have gotten to this point without them so they really earned that.”
In that game, the Panthers were led by three hit nights by Humphreys, Dickerson and Ethan Davis. Midlothian hammered out a total of 15 hits compared to just five from Heritage.
Dickerson also drove in four runs and Blake Barr drove in three. Ethan Hallmark, Humphreys, Heck, Davis and Barr each scored a pair of runs.
Davis and Matt Horn pretty much split the night on the mound. Each pitched more than three innings and both allowed three runs. They combined to have seven strike outs, but also combined to allow 10 walks to keep Heritage in the game.
Midlothian actually trailed 6-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth when the Panther bats exploded for 11 runs in the frame.
Three straight Panthers walked to star the inning then six straight singles by Hallmark, Humphreys, Heck, Dickerson, Davis and Horn led to the first six runs scoring.
Barr put his stamp on the game with a two-run double to make it 12-6.
A hit by pitch loaded the bases up again and then a pair of errors allowed the rest of the runs to score and helped Midlothian take a 1-0 series lead before Saturday’s tough pair of games.