End of the road

Baseball falls to Reagan in two games


Jackson Posey

Team hype man Colton Thomasson (right) comforts starting pitcher Zach Gingrich after baseball’s season-ending loss to Reagan. The Rangers finished the year 28-7, winning a district title and two playoff series along the way.

Jackson Posey, Sports Director

In “A League of Their Own,” Jimmy Dugan famously told Evelyn Gardner, “there’s no crying in baseball.”

But maybe, sometimes, there is.

Smithson Valley fell to the rival Reagan Rattlers on Friday, 3-2, ending their season in a dramatic game which went to extra innings.

“I had several thoughts,” senior Kasen Wells said. “One was that high school ball was really over, but another was just (a feeling of) joy for what it had been.”

The Rangers jumped out to an early lead, scoring on a throwing error in the bottom of the first inning. Starting pitcher Zach Gingrich retired the first eight batters he faced, too, and everything was coming up navy and white. That is, until it wasn’t.

With two outs in the top of the third inning, Ashton Beaird drew a full-count walk. Then Britton Moore singled to left fielder Wyatt Hansen, who was injured on the play and later left the game. Teagan Peeples then secured the Rattlers’ first RBI, hitting a hard grounder though the left side.

Smithson Valley coach Chad Koehl walked out to the mound to speak with Gingrich after that hit, but left him in to continue facing Cole Tabor, whom he walked on five pitches. With loaded bases, he took Brennan Greer eight pitches, but he ultimately earned an RBI on a controversial hit by pitch call. With that, Koehl called Jackson Elizondo out of the bullpen, and he struck out Andrew Ermis to strand three batters and escape the jam.

The Rattlers put three men on base again in the top of the fourth, but Elizondo stranded all three again, this time on a swinging strikeout and an induced fly out to right field.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Ethan Gonzalez tied the game back up with a single to center field, as Wells rounded third to beat to throw home. With two on and two out, Reagan shifted shortstop Teagan Peeples to the mound, and he induced a 3-1 ground out to end the inning.

A few minutes later, Peeples walked on five pitches to load the bases, but the Rangers stranded three runners for the third time in six innings. This time, though, it was sophomore MJ Espinoza on the mound, who threw one scoreless inning on Thursday and would also go on to finish Game 2.

The rest of regulation was pretty quiet, offensively speaking. In the final three frames, both teams combined to put just one runner on base, and even that was on a hit by pitch. But in the top of the eighth, the drama began anew.

Jacob King reached base on a throwing error by shortstop David De Hoyos, then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. The Rangers intentionally walked hitter Britton Moore, bringing up Peeples, who hit a hard ground ball single through the left side of the infield to bring home the go-ahead run. Tabor hit a sacrifice grounder to move the runners into scoring position, but Wells caught a deep fly ball from Greer to end the inning.

The Rangers looked to be in relatively good position heading into the bottom of the eighth, with junior Texas Tech commits De Hoyos and Gonzalez due up to hit first. And they delivered: De Hoyos hit a hard double to left field, and Gonzalez drew a full-count walk. Espinoza hit a sacrifice grounder to move both runners into scoring position, bringing Cooper Burgess to the plate with two outs.

With two balls and no strikes, he swung – and the ball flew right into the glove of Reagan’s right fielder.

The Rangers finished their season 28-7, winning a district titles and two playoff series along the way. Next year, the Rangers will drop down to Class 5A, where they’ll play against fellow Comal ISD schools Canyon and Pieper. For now, though, it’s the offseason – but for some players, the finality of Friday night’s loss hasn’t sunk in yet.

“I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet,” Wells said on Saturday morning. “Last night was sad, but mentally, it doesn’t feel over yet.”