The Eagles have landed
Milano’s historic run in the state playoffs came to an end Saturday, losing a decided game three 10-1 against the Mart Panthers and their ace pitcher Holden Strunck in the Region IV quarterfinals.
The Eagles’ playoff run to the third round of the post-season is the furthest for any Milano baseball team in school history. They finish the season at 17-8 in Coach Jayce Rasberry’s second season at the helm.
“It was a fun ride and I am extremely proud of our kids. We knew we had a shot to get in the playoffs at the start of the season, but making a run to the quarter finals really spoke volumes of our players,” Rasberry said. “Obviously we were hoping for a different outcome but it was a great ride.”
Mart scored six runs on just two hits in the top of the sixth inning to take a commanding lead in the deciding game of the best- of-three series at WISD’s Veterans Field on Saturday.
Panther right-hander Strunck, who had an 0.38 ERA going into the series, came in on less than 48 hours of rest, as he tossed the game one victory in Mart Thursday night.
Games two and three were to be played Friday night, but were suspended due to lightning and rain until Saturday afternoon.
Strunck, who was injured during district play earlier in the season, used his sidearm delivery to fool a few Eagle batters when he hit the mound again in game three Saturday afternoon. He sat down five Milano batters and again gave up no walks.
It seemed the longer he pitched, the stronger and faster the ball kept coming.
The senior threw 82 pitches in game one on Thursday and 55 in game three on Saturday.
We’ve got to give credit to Mart and what they have achieved. They are a talented team with great coaching, I wished them luck the rest of the way,” Rasberry said.
Thomas Sanders, Milano’s game three starter, struck out seven Panther batters and gave up five walks. Hinistroza took the mound in relief at the top of the sixth, walking two.
Sanders had reached base on an infield single to the short stop, using his speed to beat the throw to first.
Freshman David Jentsch hit Milano’s only ball out of the infield with a single to left to start off the fifth inning.
The Eagles would see only one other base runner the entire game.
Mart would smash eight hits, including a home run by Leonard Williams in the top of the third.
Down but not out
Milano forced game three with a 6-5 win early Saturday afternoon.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning, sophomore Jacob Will ingham landed a short single into left field to score Toby Sanders from third to take the lead.
Jent sch wa s intent iona l ly walked to load the bases in the top of the seventh before Willingham came up to the plate. Jentsch was three for three in that game.
Sanders, also a sophomore, helped his own cause in the bottom of the seventh, sitting down the Panthers first batter looking, getting a ground out and striking out the final batter of the game. He fanned four along the way and gave up no multiple base hits.
Mart’s Hunter Odle tossed seven strikeouts to Milano batters and just one walk in the loss. It was the only walk by a Mart pitcher in the entire series.
In top of third, Chance Pack’s double to right-center field plated two runs. He was two for four in game two.
Mart was able to tie the game at 5-5 with runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
When the game was called on Friday night, the seventh batter of the inning was at the plate for Milano and they were up 3- 0. The rain delay might have given Mart the upper hand, in that Strunck had extra time to rest.
“I have forced myself to not think about the rain situation,” Rasberr y said. “ I think the Strunck kid would have thrown game three either way, he is just a competitor.”
In Thursday’s opening game of the series, Milano struck early, scoring two in the first inning. Mart tied things up after three and plated two more in the top of the sixth off Milano errors.
The Eagles had the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth with two outs and could not plate a run.
The wheel then sort of fell off for Milano with several errors and the Panthers were able to score five more runs in the top of the seventh to put the game away at 9-2.
Senior left-hander Hinistroza absorbed the loss for Milano, striking out seven Panther batters and giving up six walks. He did pick off two Mart batters from first base. Willingham relieved Hinistroza in the seventh and managed one strike out.
Strunck, who remains undefeated on the mound, fanned nine Milano batters in seven innings of work and allowed six hits.
Hinistroza was two for two at the plate, while John Jentsch added a double .
All three of Milano playoff series went to a deciding game three.
Heading into the series with Mart, the Eagles had put up double-digit runs in six of their last seven games and five of their six playoff match-ups.
This was just the third time in program history that Milano had reached the playoffs in baseball. They made it to the post-season in 1998 and 2000. In 1998 they reached the area round.
The other two teams left in Region IV are Ben Bolt Palito Blanco and Shiner, who defeated Thrall over the weekend. Thrall was district champs in Milano’s 26A.
Milano will lose four starters to graduation this season in Thomas Sanders, Jordan Hinistroza, Jaxson Robinson and Mayson Gibbons.
Mart 10, Milano 1
Mart 201 060 1—10 8 4
Milano 000 100 0— 1 3 5
Thomas Sanders, Jordan Hinistroza ( 6) and Chance Pack.
Holden Strunck and Cody Cobbs.
HIghlights—Mart: Hunter Odle
2- 5, 2B; Leonard Williams 1- 5,
Records— Mar t 22- 8. Milano
Milano 6, Mart 5
Milano 302 000 1— 6 11 2
Mart 300 011 0—5 10 0
Toby Sanders and Chance Pack.
Hunter Odle and Cody Cobbs. W
Highlights–Milano: Jordan Hinistroza 2-3; Chance Pack 2-4, 2B;
David Jentsch 3-3; Mason Gibbons 1-4, 2B; Mart: Cody Cobbs
3-4; Odle 2-4; Lane Cobbs 2-3.
Records—Milano 17-7, Mart 21-8.