Rangers Rally, Stay Alive Against Oak Ridge

Jesuit will try to keep its postseason run going when it plays a third and deciding game against Conroe Oak Ridge on Saturday morning. (File photo: Chris McGathey)
Jesuit will try to keep its postseason run going when it plays a third and deciding game against Conroe Oak Ridge on Saturday. (File photo: Chris McGathey)

Even if Jesuit won’t have much time to rest between Game 2 and Game 3 in their Class 6A Region II semifinal series against Conroe Oak Ridge, at least there’s a third game to be played.

That was the mindset for the Rangers as they staved off elimination on Friday at Horner Ballpark, as a bases-loaded walk to J.T. Mix in the bottom of the 11th inning secured a 3-2 win.

That evened the series and forced a deciding game at 10 a.m. Saturday at Dallas Baptist University. It will be the third consecutive weekend in which Jesuit has played a Game 3.

“It was a long day yesterday and it will be a short night tonight,” said Jesuit head coach Brian Jones, “but it’s OK as long as it comes out on our end.”

The walk to Mix came on the ninth pitch of his at-bat to culminate a two-out rally. That’s when Matt Horvath and Jared Kengott singled, and pinch-hitter Jake Ryan reached on an error to fill the bases.

“We just haven’t had a big hit lately,” Jones said. “We had to be due for something to finally go our way. I’ll take a bases-loaded walk.”

The Rangers (32-8) rallied twice earlier in the game. Pete Hamrick had an RBI double in the first inning to score Mix, and Jesuit manufactured a run in the bottom of the sixth on two Oak Ridge errors, a walk, and a Mark Ready single that brought home Hamrick.

Otherwise, it was a pitcher’s duel between a pair of lefthanders – Jesuit’s Kyle Muller and Oak Ridge’s Jacory Boudreaux. Muller threw 134 pitches over nine innings, allowing seven hits and one earned run with eight strikeouts. Boudreaux also settled down after a rough first inning and kept Jesuit hitters off-balance for eight strong innings.

In the 10th inning, Muller yielded to right-hander J.J. Montenegro, who pitched two shutout innings for the win after struggling in his two previous outings.

“He definitely stepped up,” Jones said. “He needed confidence, and we’re going to stick with the guys who get us here.”

Both teams had scoring opportunities scattered throughout the game, but perhaps the best came for the Rangers in the bottom of the 10th, when Muller singled and stole second base with two outs. After a walk, Bryce Bonner singled to left field, but a perfect throw gunned down Muller at the plate to keep the game going.

The War Eagles (23-12), who won 3-0 on Thursday night in Houston, are trying to avenge a sweep by Jesuit in the regional finals last season.

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