Van Alstyne nudges HHS out of playoffs

Jags unable to hold sixth-inning leads in both games of bi-district series

Mirror report
Heritage freshman Carter Rutenbar pitches during a warm-up game against Tolar on April 29. The Jaguars were edged twice by Van Alstyne in their Class 4A Region II bi-district series, ending their season.

Each game of this past weekend’s Class 4A Region II bi-district baseball playoff series was there for the taking for the Heritage Jaguars — but both times, it slipped away in the sixth inning.

The Jags couldn’t put away the fourth-seeded Van Alstyne Panthers late in each game, and the Panthers took wins of 3-2 on Friday and 4-3 on Saturday to sweep the Jags out of the postseason. Game 2 ended with the potential game-tying run tagged out at the plate.

Heritage ended the season with a record of 22-8-1, winning the District 10-4A championship.

In Saturday’s Game 2 in Van Alstyne, the Jags scored all three of their runs in the third inning on Zane Klish’s three-run homer and took a 3-1 advantage into the bottom of the sixth, looking to extend the series to a deciding rubber game — but the Panthers had other ideas as they scored three runs in the inning, aided by two HHS errors.

The Jags had a chance in the seventh when freshman Carter Rutenbar walked with one out. One out later, Hunter Trojacek singled to right, and the throw in went wide as Rutenbar rounded third and headed home. But the Panther catcher retrieved the ball and threw to the pitcher covering home for the tagout, ending the game and the Jags’ season.

Trojacek and Andrew Graham each finished 2-for-4 and Carter Pace was 2-for-2 with two doubles as the Jags outhit Van Alstyne 10-5. But the Jags stranded seven base runners and also committed four errors in the field.

Klish’s three-run bomb to left on a 1-1 count with two out in the third scored Rutenbar and Graham ahead of him, and staked HHS to a 3-1 lead which held up until the sixth.

Friday’s Game 1 at HHS went much the same, with the Panthers scoring two runs in the top of the sixth to erase a one-run lead. A line double play ended the home half of the sixth, and the Jags were retired on three strikeouts in the seventh.

Van Alstyne opened the game with a run, but HHS pulled even in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by Roman Cariaga. The Jags took the lead in the fourth on a Klish single to left.