The grinding five-week drive to win a second consecutive UIL Class 5A baseball championship caught up with Grapevine on Saturday at Dell Diamond.
Timely hits by Port Neches-Groves, and four errors by the Mustangs, gave the Indians a 4-2 victory in this year’s 5A title game.
“It’s one of those days where you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle from the first hitter of the game,” Grapevine coach Steven Hutcherson said. “It’s tough in a championship game.”
The Mustangs (33-13) had endured eight playoff elimination games before the final, including Game 1 losses in the previous two rounds.
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“It was a lot harder this year,” Grapevine shortstop Boone Montgomery said. “We made it a lot harder, playing all those Game 3s, probably playing better teams.”
The Indians (34-8-2) took quick advantage Saturday, with two Grapevine errors on the first two batters in the bottom of the first inning. PNG came through with three hits as well, and the Mustangs trailed 2-0.
“We were playing in this game, a lot, because of pitching and defense,” Hutcherson said. “Didn’t pitch bad, didn’t pitch great. Definitely didn’t play great defense, but we had our chances.”
Like in the top of the third inning, when Grapevine second baseman London Green got a lead-off double and would score three batters later.
The Mustangs cut the deficit to 2-1, but — with no outs — a close call at first on a bunt went against Grapevine, and the base runner was ejected for arguing the call.
“Thought we got a bad break on a call that maybe kept a run off the board,” Hutcherson said. “That’s baseball though. You’ve got to make your own luck in this game, and a couple of bad calls convinced us we couldn’t make our own luck.”
The Indians went ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the third inning, thanks to a Grapevine error and a sacrifice fly.
PNG made it 4-1 in the fourth by taking advantage of another error that got the lead-off batter aboard. He later scored on a bases-loaded walk. In all, the Indians scored three unearned runs.
Green, who got two of Grapevine’s four hits, scored the Mustangs’ other run in the fifth inning.
“It’s a real bitter taste,” said Montgomery, a senior. “It’s real frustrating not playing well, especially in that important of a game.”