Eagles fly past ranked Lions
No. 8 Fayetteville in a best of three area round playoff series, marking the furthest any Milano baseball team has reached in the post-season.
The Eagles (16-6) will face off against the Mart Panthers (20-7) in another best of three series starting Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Waco ISD Veterans Field. Game two will be played at 5 p.m. Friday, with game three to follow if necessary.
Milano came from behind to win 12-4 in the third and deciding game on Saturday af ternoon at Voehlek-Koether Field in LaGrange in the three game series.
Fayetteville (20- 6) and ace pitcher Connor Bertsch took game two earlier Saturday 10-7.
The Eagles won the series opener Fr iday night 12- 3 in Thorndale.
Milano knew it had to rally in game three of the series to keep their playoff run going. Behind the arm of Toby Sanders and the bats of experience Eagle players, they were able to pull out the victory.
“I think its was multiple things that helped us rally in the third game,” Eagles head coach Jayce Rasberry said. “We obviously had another great outing from Toby, but our lineup was able to put 12 runs on the board. We found ourselves down early but rallied late when we needed. Our defense played well enough to keep us in the game and our pitching came through for us once again.”
All three Milano pitchers tossed complete games. Toby Sanders also pitched Milano’s third and deciding game against Riesel in their bi-district series.
During the second game of the series, the first played on Saturday, the Eagles found it hard to hit Bertsch consistently in the early innings.
Milano was down 6-1 at the end of three. The Eagles got the timing of Bertsch’s pitching down and started to plate runs, scoring two in each of the fourth, sixth and seventh innings. The Lions also managed two in the fourth.
Bertsch struck out six Eagle batters.
Thomas Sanders absorbed the loss for Milano, strking out six batters and walking six.
Jacob Willingham led t he Eagles at the plate going three for four with a double and two RBIs. Chance Pack and Jaxson Robinson were each two for three.
Milano came out ready to play Friday in what was senior pitcher Jordan Hinistroza’s homecoming. He had transferred from Thorndale last season and had no-hit Milano his freshman year on the same field.
The Eagles were up 0-0 heading into the fifth when Fayetteville cashed in on a Milano error and would go up 3-2. The Eagles answered back to tie things up in the bottom of that frame and never looked back.
Hinistroza would strike out 13 Lions batters on the night.
At the plate, John Jentsch went four for four with a double, while little brother David was three for four with a home run and four RBIs.
Fayetteville was 27A champion and had gone undefeated in district play. They had a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
The Eagles have put up doubledigit runs in six of their last seven games and five of their six playoff games.
Mart is no stranger to the post-season and were co-district champions in District 25A with Riesel and Bremond. Milano defeated Riesel in the bi-district round of the playoffs two weeks ago.
Mart earned a bye in the first round of the post- season and swept Flatonia 15-4 and 5-4 in their area round series over the weekend.
“ We know they will hit the ball well throughout their whole lineup. They are solid all the way around and coached very well. That is the general consensus of everyone that is still in the playoff hunt,” Rasberry said. “There are no sloppy teams at this level. We need to sharpen up our game defensively and keep the sticks rolling.”
The Panthers are led by senior pitcher Holden Strunck, who holds an earned run average of 0.38. He is also batting .480 on the season.
Hunter Odle leads the teams offense with a .573 batting average and five home runs. Cody Cobbs is batting .509 and has stolen 24 bases on the season.
Baseball is a game of numbers, but don’t count the Eagles out.
“We have experienced great outings by our pitching staff, and expect nothing less this upcoming weekend,” Rasberry said.
As the school year comes to an end as do other sports Eagle athletes compete in, Milano’s baseball team is now at full capacity so to speak.
“We finally have all our kids out from other sports for the first time. We fully support them competing in all sports, but its going to be to our advantage to finally fire on all cylinders,” Rasberry said.
Winner of the Milano-Mart series will play the Port Aransas- Johnson City winner next week in the regional semifinals.
Game 1 Milano 12, Fayetteville 3
Rohde, W. Ber tsch ( 6) and Weishuhn. Hinistroza and Pack. W-Hinistroza, 13K, 3B. L-Rohde. Records- Milano 15- 5. Fayetteville 19-5.
Milano Highlights: J. Jentsch 4- 4, 2B, 2RBI; D. Jentsch 3-4, HR, 4RBI; Tb. Sanders 2-4, (2) 2B.
Game 2 Fayetteville 10, Milano 7
Th. Sanders and Pack. C. Bertsch and Weishuhn. W- C. Bertsch. L-Th. Sanders, 6K, 6BB. Records-Milano 15-6. Fayetteville 20-5.
Milano Highlights: Willingham 3-4, 2B, 2RBI; Pack 2-3; Robinson 2-3.
Game 3 Milano 12, Fayetteville 4
Tb. Sanders and Pack. Malota, Rohde (6) and Weishuhn. W-Tb. Sanders, 10K, 6BB. L- Malota. Records- Milano 16- 6. Fayetteville 20-6.
Milano Highlights: Tb. Sanders 3-4, 3B, 2B; Hinistroza 3-4, 2B, 3RBI; J. Jentsch 3-5, 2B, 2RBI.
MILANO VS. MART
Who—Milano Eagles (16-6) vs. Mart Panthers (20-7) What—Class A, Region IV, regional quarterfinals. When—Thursday 6 p.m. at Waco Veterans Memorial Stadium; Friday, 5 p.m. (third game to follow if necessary). Last week—Milano def. Fayetteville 12-3, 7-10, 12-4; Mart def. Flatonia 15-4, 5-4. District—Milano was second in District 26A; Mart was District 25A champion. Last playoff appearance— Milano 2000, Mart 2010.