The 20-6 Sharks placed second in District 23-6A and the 14-5-1 Chargers placed third in District 24-6A. The best out of three series for Bi-District was held at Baytown Lee this past weekend.
Springs came out swinging, scoring three runs in the top of the first with RBIs from Jordan Boothe and Hayden See. Despite several base hits from both teams, the next five innings remained scoreless thanks to the pitching of Jacob Wingard for the Chargers and Sebastian Soliz for the Sharks, as well as the defensive efforts of all players. The action picked up again in the top of the seventh when Parker Lee hit a two-run homer to secure Springs's lead at 5-0 before Shadow Creek's last at-bat.
Even with a triple from Dejuan Lewis and an RBI from Juan Guzman, the Sharks were unable to close the gap, and Clear Springs clinched the first victory of the series 5-1.
After the game, Coach Scalise, who is in his first season as Shadow Creek's head coach, said, "We're playing a good team. It's one of those things where they're good, we know it, Springs is always good. Playing them is always a battle—it's one where the kids come out and play. For us, we had a bad inning in the first inning. Not even a bad one, they just hit the ball a little bit and we just didn't respond offensively. When we don't respond offensively, we don't have a chance. I'm proud of them though. They hit the ball hard, they hit pretty much right at people the entire game, and they made great plays. The team that makes the plays and pitches wins."
Coach Scalise's plan to bounce back? Wash off the first one. Scalise believed his players were mentally tough enough to erase the first loss and give Springs a run for their money on Saturday.
They certainly washed off Friday night's game.
Saturday's game was another slow start, the score resting at 0-0 until the bottom of the third where Clear Springs busted out two runs. However, the Sharks stayed persistent and disciplined, scoring eight total runs in the fifth and sixth innings with the help of a home run from Aidan Griggsby. Springs refused to let them get away with their 8-2 lead, answering in the bottom of the sixth with six runs to tie the score 8-8.
With a scoreless seventh inning, Game 2 came down to extra innings. Both teams battled hard, but an unanswered 2-RBI double from Shadow Creek's Sabian Hernandez in the top of the ninth ended the game with a final score of 10-8.
In a do-or-die Game 3 thirty minutes later, Shadow Creek started with an early lead 5-0 by the end of the second. Despite the success of Clear Springs at the plate in the fifth and sixth innings as they brought the score to 5-4, another run in the bottom of the sixth for the Sharks increased the lead to 6-4. The Chargers were unable to close the gap in the seventh, ending the game and securing Shadow Creek's spot in the Area Finals.
Post-game, VYPE caught up with Coach Scalise:
VYPE: How did you adjust in the second game to pull out the win in extra innings?
Scalise: The kid's just played. They fought. We went up 8-2, gave up six runs in one inning to make it 8-8, then brought in our Game 3 starter just to try and get a win to get to Game 3, and he threw really well. I think at that point, our kids just wanted it more than them.
VYPE: What was the main difference you saw in your team's mindset and performance from the start of the series to the end?
Scalise: Experience. There's no doubt about it. I talked to the kids about the game being too big for them in the moment, and there were some times where the game was just [very] overwhelming. I talked to the guys, and I think we had about six that had playoff experience. Some of them had never even been in a playoff game, much less a 6A playoff game. I've said it since the beginning of the year, 6A baseball is completely different from 5A baseball, and that was a really big series for our kids. I think being in the moment, understanding what a playoff atmosphere is really like, knowing that they can get it done because we've done it all year, and the mindset of 'they're better than them.'
VYPE: How do you plan to take the energy from this win into Round 2?
Scalise: I told the kids, enjoy the win tonight and Sunday, start thinking about Round 2. Round 2's going to be just as tough, maybe even tougher. We're playing a really good team. Energy for us is not doing anything more than we've done all year. Our playing is the same, our practice playing is the same, our mindset is the same. The only difference at this point is if you win you advance, if you lose you go home. I'm a big believer in having our kids loose, having them relax, me being relaxed, and my coaching staff being relaxed. If we can do that, then our kids can do that.
Shadow Creek will face off against Summer Creek, who swept Deer Park in Bi-District, on Thursday, May 13, and Friday, May 14 for a spot in the Regional Quarterfinals.