The Leonard Tigers came to Van Alstyne on Tuesday night fresh off of a 4-3 win over Sunnyvale and sporting a 3-0 District 12-2A record.
Judging by the number of cars parked alongside Highway 5, they brought about half of the town along with them.
Their nice size crowd went home pondering a 6-4 loss to the Panthers when the reigning district Pitcher of the Year was on the bump. Van Alstyne had a hit in all but one inning against senior Ty McKinney, and the Panthers blasted him hard in the sixth, coming back from a Leonard rally to get their third district win.
The Panthers scored a run in each of the first two innings, and sophomore lefty Will Jones was matching McKinney’s efforts, shutting out the Tigers through the first four frames.
Leonard took advantage of some leaks in the Panther defense in the fourth, scoring on an error after Jones had gotten two outs with the bases loaded.
Trailing 2-1 going to the top half of the sixth, Leonard’s lead-off man reached on a Panther miscue and that always leads to trouble. Mason Sargent followed with a single, and after one out Walker Copeland tripled to the gap in right center to drive in two runs to give Leonard the lead. After Jones got the second out, Laine Albert doubled to drive in Copeland, putting the Tigers on top, 4-2.
Trey Burden came on in relief following Albert’s hit, and after one pitch Alex Phillips’ throw to third easily nabbed Albert on the attempted steal.
Coming off the field, the Panthers were banking on their two remaining at-bats to come back on the hard-throwing McKinney.
They only needed one.
Phillips led off the sixth with a ringing double to center field and was replaced at second by courtesy-runner Zach Davis. Davis scored on a shot down the right field line by Bailey Thorpe that went for a triple.
With one out, Thorpe scored the tying run on a Leonard error that allowed Terry Lawrence to reach. Burden came through with a triple to drive in Lawrence and he scored on the second Leonard error of the inning, putting the Panthers on top 6-4.
Burden made that lead stand up in the seventh, getting a pair of strikeouts to retire the side in order and sending that big Leonard crowd home to nurse its wounds.
Van Alstyne 1-1-0-0-0-4-x—6
WP- Burden. 2b- Alex Phillips.3b- Bailey Thorpe, Trey Burden
Van Alstyne 5, Sunnyvale 1
The Sunnyvale Raiders were ranked as the number one Class 2A baseball team in the state by the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association going into a March 11 game against Van Alstyne in Sunnyvale.
The Panthers, with just four wins on the season, were probably down in the small print, if ranked at all. Proving once again that they play the games on the field, Van Alstyne pulled off the upset with a 5-1 win.
The visitors went small-ball in the league win, racking up eight hits — all singles — to improve to 1-1 in district play.
Sophomore Will Jones scattered five hits over his 6.1 innings of work as he struck out 11. Terry Lawrence had three hits in four trips to the plate, while Kearon Redmon and Trey Burden each had a pair of hits in the District 12-2A contest.
Everybody had zeroes on the board going into the top half of the fifth, as Lawrence got a leadoff single and moved to second on one of Sunnyvale’s four errors in the game. A ground out to the right side by Burden moved Lawrence to third and he scored on Redmon’s RBI single.
The Panthers broke the game open in the sixth, scoring three runs, with a big helping hand from a shaky Raider defense.
With two out, Bailey Thorpe walked, and after one unsuccessful pickoff attempt the second resulted in an error that moved Thorpe to second. Jake Hillebrenner reached on an error that brought home Thorpe, and Hillebrenner scored on the throw from the outfield following a Lawrence single.
Lawrence moved to second on the throw and scored on a Burden single to make it a 4-0 game.
Sunnyvale got on the board in the bottom half of the sixth.
Van Alstyne added an insurance run in the seventh as Bryce Moody scored on a bases-loaded walk to Thorpe.
With two on and one out in the Raiders final at-bat, a double-play by the Panther infield closed the book.
Van Alstyne 0-0-0-0-1-3-1—5
Van Alstyne 7, Farmersville 4
After the exciting, upset win on the road against state-ranked Sunnyvale, the Panthers didn’t want to give one back at home on March 12 as they hosted Farmersville.
Falling behind 3-0 before coming to bat, the Panthers rallied for a 7-4 win against the Farmers.
Will Jones drove in two runs for the Panthers with a 2-for-4 day at the plate. Brady Welch went 2-for-2, scoring two runs for Van Alstyne.
Trey Burden escaped that first inning mess, going seven innings and striking out five to get the win.
Kearon Redmon was hit by a pitch leading off the Panther first, and he eventually scored on a Farmersville error.
Jake (from State Farm) Hillebrenner doubled to open the Van Alstyne second inning, moved to third on an error and scored when the Farmersville pitcher balked.
The Panthers put up a crooked number in the third, using a Welch double and an RBI single by Jones for their first run.
Walks to Bailey Thorpe and Hillebrenner would come back to haunt the visitors as both runners scored after a couple of errors at third base by the Farmers.
Farmersville attempted a comeback in the fourth as Zac Chambers was plunked by a Burden pitch. He scored on an RBI double by Jason Luke to cut the Van Alstyne lead to 5-4.
Just as good teams do, the Panthers answered with a pair of runs in their half of the frame to re-claim the Mo.
Welch singled to open the inning and Alex Phillips followed with another single. Zach Davis was sent in to run for Phillips and back-to-back singles by Jones and Thorpe brought home runs to expand the Panther lead to, 7-4.
The Van Alstyne defense made a couple of plays late to keep the visitors off the board. With two outs and a runner at second, Burden came off the mound to field a slow roller, and his throw to first just nipped the runner for the final out of the inning.
Hillebrenner made a nice play at short, backhanding a shot headed for the outfield, and his throw to first was in time.
After their game against Leonard, the Panthers have the bye on Friday before heading back into district play.
Van Alstyne 1-1-3-2-0-0-x—7
VA:(6-6-1)(2-1)- Welch-2b, Hillebrenner-2b.