Packard’s walk-off single sinks Sanger
ANNA - Sophomore Josh Packard belted a walk-off 2-RBI single on Friday to boost the Anna Coyotes past Sanger, 15-14, in a crucial - and crazy-long - district contest at the Anna Sports Complex. The near never-ending battle featured 31 hits and five Sanger pitchers as the Coyotes picked up their first district win of the season.
Anna refused to lie down after the Indians rallied for six runs in the seventh to take a 14-13 lead.
In the Coyotes’ last-chance at-bat, Michael Burnside got things going with a lead-off single to center field then Rawley Hector was hit by a pitch - for a third time this night – putting the winning run on base. Burnside and Hector pulled a double steal to reach third and second, respectively, and Howard walked to load the bases. Stepping to the plate next was Packard, whose two-out error at second base had allowed Sanger to tie it, 13-13, in the seventh. After taking a ball, then a strike, Packard sent the next pitch on a game-ending ride to right field as Burnside and Hector raced home.
“We were all excited for [Packard] for that,” Anna head coach Joey Hector said by phone the next day. “He’s had a tough go of it lately. … To come back right after that and be put in a situation again to make a play - and that time coming through - his teammates were real happy for him.”
Not only did the Coyotes bounce back late, they did so early on after Sanger slapped four first-inning runs on the board. Anna matched those four runs in the bottom of the frame and went on to add five more over the second and third innings to lead, 9-5.
“The way things have been going lately,” Hector said, “it would be real easy when they’re down 4 to just shut it down. The fact that we came back so quick and answered, I was proud of that.”
Indeed, on this picture-perfect evening with plenty of hot dogs and frito pie for all, the Coyotes got a win they desperately needed, having entered the arena 0-3 in district play. The result draws Anna to within a game of third-place Celina and Sanger as the race nears its midpoint.
With Coyote bats needing a spark of late, Coach Hector shook up the order - Hector first, Jacob Odom second, Zach Howard third and Packard fourth, with other changes at the bottom. The move paid off. “We felt like they were going to start walking a few of our kids to get to other people,” Hector said. “We changed up the order to try to combat that, to try to help some guys see some different pitches. Really, when you’re not swinging the bats you can do whatever you want with the lineup because it’s not like it was working in the first place. … It all worked out pretty good. The kids all swung the bats a lot better.”
Odom continued his tear at the plate, going 4-for-6 with an RBI-triple in the second, while Howard went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, Jaden Adams had an RBI-double in the second, and Derek Kirschner smacked an RBI-double in the fifth.
Howard started on the mound for Anna and worked 4.1 innings, striking out five and walking four while permitting seven earned runs and nine hits. Kirschner took over in the fifth and closed out the final 2.2 frames with one “K” and two walks while allowing nine hits and five earned runs. The Coyotes’ defense logged three errors.
All told, Sanger’s troop of pitchers combined for 10 strikeouts and six walks while allowing six earned runs. The Indians’ defense coughed up eight errors.
Texas A&M-pledge Hector is likely bruised up after this one, having taken those three pitches to the body. Sanger also intentionally walked him twice in hopes of blunting Anna’s attack. But with Hector on, Coyote batters who followed made the Indians pay, plating him three times as he bagged a game-high three steals.
Coach Hector said in leading up to this game he didn’t try to avoid the “must-win” nature of it. “We did kind of emphasize that winning this game would get us back in a spot where we can make a run to try to get in the playoffs. We stressed it to them, but more importantly we stressed the fact that if we don’t start playing better we’re going to run out of time with our teammates. I think that’s why they stepped up and played the way they did.”
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Sanger 4 1 0 0 2 1 6 14 18 8
Anna 4 3 2 0 3 1 2 15 13 3
Coyotes’ rally falls short
Celina struck for three second-inning runs then held off Anna’s late rally for a 4-3 win in district play on March 26 at the Anna Sports Complex. Coyotes starter Rawley Hector allowed seven hits and four earned runs over five innings while striking out six and walking three. Zach Howard came on in the sixth and permitted one hit with two strikeouts and no walks in two complete frames.
Celina’s Zane Barnett struck out 10 and walked six over 5.2 innings. Reliever Will Keaveney came on with a 4-1 lead in the sixth. In the seventh, Keaveney gave up a one-out, two-run homer to Hector then posted two strikeouts to end the game.
DJ Dell’Anno went 2-for-3 at the plate for the Bobcats, including a lead-off triple in the second. Will Anderson followed that three-bagger with a single to the left side, scoring Dell’Anno. Then, with two outs, Riley Briscoe’s 2-RBI double to left made it 3-0, Celina.
Anna (0-3) answered with a run in the fourth, with Michael Burnside and Jacob Odom drawing walks to open the frame and Burnside then coming home on an error at second base. In the fifth, the Bobcats (2-1) plated their fourth run with a single to right, a stolen base and a single to left.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Celina 0 3 0 0 1 0 0 4 8 1
Anna 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 3 2 2