Heartbreak for Southlake Carroll came in the form of a sixth-inning balk that plated the deciding run Friday in a 3-2 loss to Deer Park in a UIL Class 6A state baseball semifinal at Dell Diamond.
On a pickoff move, Dragons senior right-hander Kole Ramage (10-4) drew the balk call from the third base umpire, which brought home Deer Park’s Blaine Holden.
“It was unfortunate. And, you know, that’s what he saw and that’s the rule the way he said he interpreted it,” Carroll coach Larry Vucan said. “It is what it is.
“He said that he saw [Ramage] not replace his feet, and on the [pick-off] move. You can do it, it’s legal, but he said he didn’t replace his feet.”
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Deer Park (34-8-1) meets San Antonio Reagan (31-8) in the championship at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Rattlers beat Round Rock 7-1.
Carroll (32-11-1) got singles by Adam Stephenson and Wyatt Stapp in the top of the seventh, and Ramage followed with a sinking line drive to center field, but Deer Park’s Chase Keng made a diving catch for the out. Keng then caught a pop fly to end the game.
“I thought for sure we were going to get them. We hit some balls hard,” Vucan said. “That’s where you’ve got to give it to them. They made plays. That center fielder made a heck of a play. You’ve got to hand it to him.”
Keng also drove in the tying run, in the sixth inning, on a single to right field that scored pinch runner Christian Vela.
Leading 2-1 through five innings, Carroll missed its best opportunity for more runs in the top of the sixth, with the bases loaded and just one out. Instead, Deer Park got the second out on a force play at home, and winning pitcher Adrian Gonzales (9-1) ended the threat with a strike out.
“We had other chances obviously to take care of business and we didn’t with the bases loaded, so that’s on us,” Vucan said. “The balk call is one bad call, but we should have overcome that, and our kids fought hard.
“There was no lack of effort or attitude or fight. It just didn’t happen for us, and you’ve got to tip your hat to them because they played their butts off. We salute them and we wish them the best in the next game.”