Canyon Diego Hernandez makes the tag on Pampa’s Hunter Nichols, who was out sliding into second base during a District 4-4A game at the Double Eagle Sports Park in Canyon on Saturday. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
It was hardly a perfect day at Double Eagle Field in Canyon on Saturday afternoon, at least as far as the windy conditions made watching and certainly playing less than ideal.
But it couldn’t have been a better one for coach John Doan and the Canyon Eagles.
After dominating opponents through the first six games of District 4-4A, the Eagles had come to earth their last two games, particularly in a loss at Dumas four days earlier. Given a chance to clinch the district title and give Doan a milestone win, though, despite the conditions, they didn’t blow it.
Canyon took an early lead and didn’t let up, as on a day honoring seniors, senior right-hander Mason Alley shut down Pampa, pitching a complete-game shutout for a 9-0 victory. It gave the Eagles (15-7, 8-1 in district) a two-game lead over second-place Pampa (13-9, 6-3) with a game left in the season, mathematically giving them the district title, and Doan his 500th career win.
“We went to Dumas and we were so disappointed in our performance,” Doan said. “Dumas played extremely well. They played a very good, clean game and I felt like the way we approached the game that day was not very good. We took that loss and we learned from it and showed up with good intensity today. All aspects of the game were really much improved.”
The Eagles pretty much treated Pampa like an unwanted guest for most of the day. After they scored three runs apiece in the first two innings the outcome seemed like a formality.
The celebration of a district title, honoring the seniors and Doan’s milestone after the game seemed like something the Eagles had rehearsed as if they knew it was going to happen.
“That’s the goal coming in is to win a district championship,” Doan said. “Anything after that we’ve got to go and earn it. It is unbelievable how much these guys have improved from the beginning of the year. Our senior leadership has been great. There’s just really good, tough baseball players out there who came in as a collection of guys.”
The Eagles got all the runs they needed when Ben Black’s single in the bottom of the first off Pampa starter Armando Miranda made it 1-0. Sam Johnson later hit a two-run triple to center to make it 3-0.
In the bottom of the second, Markus Barker drove in a run with a double and Black drove in two more with another to make it 6-0, and Miranda was pulled after two innings for Tyler Reed.
Alley, on the other hand, had few such problems. He gave up five singles and no walks while striking out seven, pitching in conditions more conducive to big offensive numbers.
“The one thing that was working for me was that fastball on the low outside corner,” Alley said. “The only hits they got off me were off the sliders so by the third inning I kind of stopped throwing that. On a day like today, the key is just keeping it low, especially on those bigger guys because if you get it up and they put a good swing on it, there’s no telling how far that ball’s going to go with the wind like this.”
In his final game pitching at home, it was appropriate that Alley would pitch his best game with a district title and Doan’s milestone victory at stake.
“Mason has grown up a lot this year,” Doan said. “There’s been times where I’ve gone out there to get the ball and he just gives it to me and walks off, but here lately it’s been ‘Coach I can finish.’ He’s been fighting to stay in games whenever we felt like we need to bring relief in. It’s been fun to see.”
Appropriately, Javin Cash ended the scoring by hitting a highly wind-aided two-run home run to right field off Reed in the bottom of the fifth.
Barker, Black and Johnson, the Nos. 2, 3 and 5 hitters for Canyon, all had two hits. Hunter Nichols had a pair of singles for Pampa, who is still in the playoffs despite the loss.
Doan enjoyed the celebration of the milestone and a district title, but insisted it didn’t belong to him alone.
“There are a lot of names behind that number,” Doan said. “There are past players and (Canyon assistant) coach (Wade) Williams. He’s one of the smartest baseball guys you’ll ever meet. It’s really cool to do it on a day like this at home with a lot of our fans and on Senior Night. It’s been pretty special when you throw a district championship in there on top of that.”
Randall routs Tascosa, clinches outright crown
The Eagles weren’t the only Canyon ISD team to clinch at outright district title this week, as Randall pulled off the same trick less than 24 hour earlier.
Three days after clinching the district crown by beating Tascosa at home, the Raiders made sure they won’t share it with anybody, as they jumped on Tascosa on the road Friday afternoon and rolled to a 12-1 10-run mercy rule victory in five innings. Randall is now 20-7 and 12-1 in district and is guaranteed to finish at least a game ahead of the second place finisher.
The Raiders wasted no time jumping on Tascosa (11-14-1, 6-7), as Jake Scott and Kole Dudding hit back-to-back homers to start the game, taking advantage of the wind blowing out to left field. They boosted their lead to 6-0 in the second inning thanks to a three-run homer by Andrew Ramos.
Haden Shedd pitched all five innings to earn the win for Randall, giving up only three hits and an unearned run, when the Rebels scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the first.
Amarillo High crushes Palo Duro
Amarillo High showed Palo Duro no mercy at home, scoring 12 runs in the bottom of the first to make the run rule a formality, as the Sandies routed the Dons 22-0 in five innings to maintain sole possession of second place in the district.
Will Franklin went 4-for-4 and drove in nine runs for Amarillo High (16-8, 9-4) and appropriately enough started the scoring with an RBI single. He twice came up with the bases loaded, hitting a three-run double in his second at-bat in the first and belting a grand slam in the bottom of the third to make it 20-0.
Franklin was hardly the only Sandie to have a huge day at the plate. Will Flamming went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs and Cannon Davis had two doubles and drove in three runs.
Sawyer Shipman threw all five innings to earn the win for the Sandies, giving up three singles and striking out eight. Palo Duro is now 4-18 and 1-12.
Caprock edged by Plainview
After playing spoiler by beating Plainview in a pitchers’ duel three days earlier, Caprock again got a stellar pitching performance but couldn’t match that at the plate, as Plainview rallied for a 3-2 victory at home.
Caprock (10-14, 3-10) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when Christian Contreras drew a bases-loaded walk and Isayah Gonzales-Hernandez scored on a passed ball. But the Longhorns had only four hits for the game and couldn’t score again.
Plainview (13-15-1, 8-5) scored runs in the third, fourth and fifth to take the lead as winning pitcher Isaac Garza drove home the go-ahead run with a double. The loss spoiled a solid pitching effort by Caprock’s Matthew Hulen.
Bushland rolls over Friona, clinches district’s top seed
It was the same old story for Bushland, as the Falcons maintained their unbeaten spot atop the district by crushing Friona 12-2 in five innings, their eighth straight run-rule win to open district play. Not only that, but Bushland (17-2, 8-0) also clinched the district’s No. 1 playoff seed.
Bushland broke the game open by scoring four runs in the top of the second to take a 5-0 lead. Clayton Fisher hit a two-run homer to start the scoring and Josh Bass ended the inning with a two-run single.
Friona cut it to 6-2 in the bottom of the third, but the Falcons scored four in the fourth as Tannor Adams capped the inning with a two-run homer. They scored two in the fifth to attain the run-rule margin.
Straton Malloy was 2-for-3 and drove in four runs, including the two-run double to provide the run-rule margin. Dawson Jaro pitched all five innings for Bushland and struck out 10 to earn the win.
River Road, who is in second place behind Bushland, maintained that spot with a 14-4 victory over Dimmitt. The Wildcats are now 12-9 and 6-2.
Perryton 10, Hereford 6
Dumas 14, Borger 3
Dalhart 17, Tulia 12
WT High 16, Boys Ranch 0
Sunray 16, Sanford-Fritch 6
Memphis 16, Claude 2