Cutter Sippel never played in a bigger baseball game than the one he pitched in this past Saturday. Yet the Southlake Carroll pitcher’s penchant for meeting and being bigger than the moment speaks for itself.
In Carroll’s Class 6A Region I-clinching victory over Arlington Martin, the sophomore left-hander devoured the Warriors. Sippel struck out 10 and didn’t issue any walks. In fact, Sippel rarely even came close to issuing a walk, as he went to only four 3-ball counts. A 9-0 cushion helps. But you still have to make the pitches.
The Dragons (32-10-1) are in the state tournament for the first time since 2008. They play the first of two Class 6A semifinals at 4 p.m. Friday against Deer Park (33-8-1) at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.
“I tried to treat everything as a regular game,” Sippel said. “I didn’t want to overthrow my pitches. I had some adrenaline. But I didn’t want to waste any of them, either. I’ve learned that confidence is so crucial to what I do. Even if I don’t have the best stuff, I’m going to keep fighting.”
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It really speaks well to Cutter’s ability to execute the scouting report. What he did for us was epic.
- Carroll baseball coach Larry Vucan on pitcher Cutter Sippel’s postseason play
Sippel’s psyche is in synch with how Carroll is feeling these days. The Dragons vanquished the Martin demons of 2012, 2013 and 2015. They have won nine consecutive postseason games and are 10-1 in the postseason. Carroll is making its seventh appearance in the state tournament. It won it all in 2002.
“We made the decision to bring up the Martin thing once,” Carroll coach Larry Vucan said. “This was not so much about getting the monkey off their back. We wanted a different approach. We have a rich history of getting to the state tournament.”
Sippel’s emergence behind Kole Ramage has created that 1-2 punch where Carroll’s pitching staff has dominated. Carroll has allowed only four runs in its past four playoff games, including consecutive shutouts of Martin. The Dragons have a 1.35 ERA for the postseason.
Breaking that down even more for Sippel, he’s 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 27 innings. However, he will be remembered for helping the Dragons return to Central Texas.
“It really speaks well to Cutter’s ability to execute the scouting report,” Vucan said. “What he did for us was epic. The other thing that can get lost in this is that we are solid defensively. We’ve been really good on bunt coverage playing and being able to get the lead runners. Our pitchers and players have competed.”
Because it is a one-game scenario, the state tournament is a far different game than what Carroll saw for the previous five weeks. A bad day can end the season. Coaches must adjust their pitching plans. Everybody is available.
Against Deer Park, the Dragons are expected to start with Ramage, the senior right-hander who is 4-0 with a 0.58 ERA in the postseason. But at the first sign of trouble, Sippel will pitch, as will Nicco Cole.
There is some flexibility with the pitch count rules in the playoffs. Pitchers are allotted 110 pitches in a postseason tournament. Should Carroll advance to Saturday’s 4 p.m. state title game against either San Antonio Reagan (30-8) or Round Rock (31-7) and all three of these pitchers have something left, Vucan won’t hesitate to turn to them.
“Whatever it takes,” Vucan said. “You hope they can perform. I don’t doubt their competitiveness. All of these guys have the same goal. They just want to win.”