The respective District 3-5A fortunes of the Amarillo High Sandies and Tascosa Rebels couldn’t have been put in sharper focus Friday night at Hodgetown.
What was known for sure was that the Sandies are going to be playing for at least the next couple of weeks and that the Rebels may or may not have played their final game of the season.
It was settled, though, that the Sandies are still on top of 3-5A by themselves and need only one win next week to assure themselves they’ll end the regular season that way. Amarillo High got a stellar performance on the mound from senior right-hander Payne Williams and enough hitting to pull out a 6-1 victory.
That means Amarillo High (16-10-2, 9-1 in district) only needs to split with second-place Plainview next week to clinch the district championship and No. 1 playoff seed. Tascosa (11-17, 3-9), on the other hand, has finished the regular season and has the district’s open date next week, and has to hope that Palo Duro sweeps Caprock to give the Rebels the fourth and final playoff seed.
The only thing the Sandies are uncertain of is if they’ll enter the playoffs as the No. 1 or 2 seed from 3-5A. For sure they’re going to the postseason along with Plainview and Palo Duro, and at Hodgetown they gave a glimpse of why.
“The plan was leave here with a win today and we moved that number on the win column and we’re excited about that,” AHS coach Randon Johnson said. “Obviously we want to play a little bit sharper. We’ve been really good offensively but we weren’t necessarily that tonight. We’re excited to come out here and win.”
The Sandies set the tone in the first inning when Conner Haelzle singled with one out, went to second on a walk to Jaxsen Hall, then with two outs, scored on Zach Swinney’s single to left for a 1-0 lead.
That was an offensive combination which worked well for Amarillo High, as Haelzle had two hits and scored three runs, and Tascosa was unable to retire him. Swinney also drove in two runs.
Meanwhile, Williams dominated the Rebels, especially early, striking out five batters in the first two innings and finishing with nine punchouts. Tascosa scored an unearned run with two outs in the third to tie it 1-1, but only got one runner past second base after that.
“I felt like he did a great job getting ahead early,” said Johnson of Williams. “Maybe he didn’t finish off some of those guys later on and pushed his pitch count higher a little bit. We looked at that number a little bit by the seventh inning, but he really came out her and established the fastball early and his off-speed stuff was really good.”
Williams allowed only five singles and did walk three.
“My curveball was on today and it hasn’t been that much this season,” Williams said. “The team made great plays behind me. The curve’s my strikeout pitch. It was fun, a lot of those guys are my friends and I was just blessed to be able to come out here and play in this place.”
Amarillo High quickly reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the third with two runs off Tascosa starter Brayden Keeter. Haelzle led off with a double and scored on a single to left by Cannon Davis on a very close play at the plate. Davis eventually scored on Jake Self’s sacrifice fly to center for a 3-1 lead, providing Williams with all the cushion he’d need.
Plainview rolls over Palo Duro
Palo Duro fell into a hole after three innings and never recovered, as Plainview took an early lead to beat the Dons 9-1 and complete a season sweep.
Plainview scored two run in the top of the first took a 5-0 lead after the third inning. Palo Duro (13-14, 4-6) scored in the bottom of the fourth, but that was it at the plate for the Dons, who managed only three hits.
Aiden Rivero did have two hits for the Dons against Plainview (14-13-1, 8-2).
Randall stays unbeaten by routing Perryton
It was the same old song for No. 3 Randall, as the Raiders won their 22nd straight game and stayed unbeaten atop the district with another 10-run mercy rule win, rolling over Perryton 12-1 in five innings.
Randall (26-3, 12-0) got the upper hand quickly, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the first. The Raiders attained the run-rule margin by scoring three in the bottom of the fourth.
Kole Dudding had two home runs, drove in three runs and scored three more to lead Randall’s offense and Kaden Juarez drove in two runs. Carson Haffner pitched the first four innings and gave up three hits for the win.
Perryton fell to 10-15 and 3-9.
Canyon holds on to beat Hereford, clinches playoff spot
Canyon joined fellow Canyon ISD rival Randall in the postseason, as the Eagles took the lead with four runs in the bottom of the fourth and beat Hereford 6-4, clinching no worse than a tie for the district’s No. 2 seed.
The Eagles (19-7. 9-3) trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth, but scored four runs to take a 5-2 lead. Sam Johnson added some insurance for Canyon with a solo homer in the fifth.
Hereford (14-9-2, 6-6) made things interesting with two runs in the top of the seventh, but couldn’t pull even.
West Plains run-rules Borger
In what might have been the biggest win in their first season, the West Plains Wolves run-ruled Borger 10-0 in six innings to move into a tie for third place in the district and place themselves in the middle of the playoff picture with two games left in the regular season.
West Plains (17-10, 7-5) scored five runs in the bottom of the first to take control against Borger (4-21, 0-12) and ended the game early with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Jaylun Aguilera and Bradley Cepeda both drove in two runs for the Wolves.
Bryton Bertrand pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up only one hit while striking out 12 for the win.
Randall 12, Perryton 1, 5 innings
Canyon 6, Hereford 4
West Plains 10, Borger 0
Dumas 4, Pampa 2
Bushland clobbers Tulia, clinches district title
Bushland appropriately scored its most decisive win in district play to clinch the district chanmpionship, rolling over Tulia 29-0 in five innings, giving the Falcons their eighth run-rule win in eight district games.
Senior Josh Bass did everything for the Falcons (21-3, 8-0), as he threw a no-hitter with nine strikeouts in the abbreviated game. Bass also was 5-for-6, batting for the cycle with two homers and five RBIs.
Kade Gavina was also 5-for-6 with a cycle and five RBIs, while Cannon Melban had three hits with a homer and drove in three runs. In the other district game Friday, Dalhart defeated Dimmitt, 7-3.