SAN ANTONIO – Reagan has been to the UIL 6A baseball final three times in five seasons. But, in those seasons, they were 1-5 versus Johnson in the Stone Oak World Series. Had the wind been calm on Tuesday night at the new Northeast Sports Park, Johnson would have won 1-0 and continued its mastery of the Rattlers. But a 25 mile per hour cross wind and a steady drizzle led to a critical Jaguar error and the Rattlers eventually broke through in extra innings to beat the Jags 4-1 in the 27-6A district opener for both.
Pitcher Travis Sthele singled to start the eighth inning and eventually scored on Stayton Ankrom’s sacrifice fly to break a 1-1 tie.
“Travis Sthele did a great job on the mound,” said Ankrom. “The whole team did a great job. Good effort.”
“We know they are a good quality club, especially against us,” said Sthele. “They are always up to play us. I have to trust my defense. Trust my catcher and trust the coach calling pitches. I executed some pitches down the stretch.”
If the game had been played in windless conditions, the eighth inning never would have happened. In the top of the third, with Johnson leading 1-0, Britt Moore hit a fly ball deep to left. But, leftfielder Parker Spanley couldn’t find the ball in the high wind and it fell to the artificial turf. Moore raced to third base and scored on a Sthele groundout. That was one of four errors Johnson committed, but that was the most crucial of them, as Reagan was unable to mount any offense the rest of regulation. The Rattlers had no errors.
The error wasted what would have been a shutout for Johnson starting pitcher Nathan Dettmer, who didn’t allow another runner past second base until the eighth.
Dettmer’s pitch count ran high and the last pitch he threw was Ankrom’s sac fly that won the game.
“I saw it right down the pipe and took a hack at it and it went,” said Ankrom. “This was like a playoff game. Great atmosphere and hyped to play the game.”
Jacob Wrenn came into to relieve Dettmer and hit JT Moeller with the bases loaded to force in a run. Jared Sherer singled home another run and then came on to get the last out in the bottom of the eighth, when Sthele had to leave after throwing 111 pitches and earned the save. Sthele struck out 10 and walked four, but allowed just three hits.
Reagan won't have long to celebrate, as they will face Churchill on Thursday. The Rattlers have beaten the Chargers in the 6A quarterfinals the last two years, although Churchill has several new players on the roster.
Greg Sherman covers high school sports for Vype SA and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.