Written by Matt Wixon
Dallas-area poised to crash UIL baseball state party with strong regional finalist showing
In the last 10 years, only three baseball teams from the Dallas area have won UIL state titles. Compared with the success of local teams in other sports, it’s a pretty substantial drought.
But a week from the state tournament, it’s a time for optimism. And with the way the area’s six regional finalists handled themselves in crunch time last week, there’s more than a trickle of hope that the parched baseball landscape will get some relief.
The Dallas-area regional finalists — Flower Mound, Flower Mound Marcus and Plano in 5A, along with Mansfield Legacy (4A), Argyle (3A) and Sunnyvale (2A) — are each four wins from a state title. The first two wins would claim a best-of-3 regional final and earn a spot in the state semifinals.
“So close. Four wins away,” Plano coach Rick Robertson said. “But right now, we’re thinking that we need one. We’re focused on the one.”
After last week’s bevy of dramatic finishes, the teams shouldn’t have any problem with focus.
Plano, Flower Mound and Argyle needed seventh-inning comebacks to win deciding games. Legacy needed to rally from a three-run deficit in its Game 3, and Sunnyvale held off Hughes Springs for a 5-4 victory in a one-game playoff. Marcus didn’t have the same level of drama, but it needed a Game 3 to put away Midland.
At this point in the playoffs, most games are tight and unpredictable. Baseball is a game of talent and skill, no doubt, but it’s also a game of bloop singles and line-drive outs. You need pitching depth, solid defense, timely hitting and, as baseball coaches readily admit, a little luck.
“You’ve got to win some high-scoring games, and you’ve got to win some 1-0,” Flower Mound coach Danny Wallace said. “You’ve got to win different styles of games, and you’ve got to catch some breaks.”
And you’ve got to be able to grind out wins. “Blue-collar baseball” is what Robertson preaches to his players, and that mentality paid off against Klein Collins.
Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Plano got two runs without hitting the ball out of the infield. The Wildcats capitalized on a walk, a hit batter and an infield single that led to a throwing error. It wasn’t the prettiest winning run ever, but it was the way many teams advance in the playoffs.
That includes Flower Mound, which led Southlake Carroll, 5-3, entering the seventh inning of the teams’ deciding Game 3. Flower Mound was three outs from making the regional final, and then after Carroll rallied for a 7-5 edge, Flower Mound was suddenly three outs from its season ending.
Flower Mound responded the way Plano did. The Jaguars got a walk and two singles, then tied the score with a squeeze bunt. Flower Mound won when the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, Jameson Hannah, drew a bases-loaded walk.
Definitely not pretty. But it was gritty, and for any team seeking a state baseball title, that’s much more important.