Kingwood routs Pearland in game three showdown

PEARLAND — Facing the No. 3 state-ranked baseball team isn't the easiest task to advance in the Class 6A Region III playoffs, but the Pearland Oilers won the first game 1-0 in their best-of-three series against Kingwood and barely lost 4-3 in the second game to force a third and final game with the winner advancing to the region quarterfinals.

Unfortunately, the Mustangs showed why they are so highly ranked as the wheels fell off for the Oilers in a 15-0 loss that was shortened after five innings due to the mercy rule in the showdown contest. All three games were played at the University of Houston baseball facility.

Pearland entered the series knowing that Kingwood had an explosive offense after they had scored 36 runs in their previous two playoff games when they swept Beaumont Westbrook 26-3 and 10-4 in the first round.

As it turned out, the first game saw only one run scored and that was by the Oilers as Pearland starter Matt Adams surrendered only two hits and no runs to shutout the Mustangs 1-0 for the win.

That didn't mean that Kingwood didn't have the opportunity to score but Adams strong seven-inning performance on the mound and a stellar defense that produced four double plays at critical times to thwart scoring chances by the Mustangs was just what Pearland needed at the right time.

The game's lone run was scored in the fifth inning.

Adams drilled a one-out single to right and, one out later, Sam Velasquez, did the same, putting runners at the corners. Oilers leadoff hitter Mason Lytle then slapped the ball through the left side of the infield, scoring pinch-runner Christian Terranova from third.

That run spoiled an otherwise impressive pitching performance from Kingwood senior lefthander Cody Lancaster, who worked six innings.

"Efficient pitching," Pearland head coach Anthony Scalise said. "I feel if we can pitch like that, I feel we can beat anybody, and I truly mean that.

"We tell our kids that all the time. Both pitchers were very efficient. I thought we hit balls crazy-hard right at them. We hit-and-run in the fifth, and it obviously worked. It couldn't have played out better with our leadoff hitter coming to the plate.

"We came into the game as an underdog, and I love that role."

In Game 2, Pearland wasn't quite as efficient as errors proved costly for the Oilers in a 4-3 loss sending the series to a game-deciding contest.

While Pearland outhit the Mustangs 7 to 2, the Oilers also committed five costly errors that allowed Kingwood to put runs on the scoreboard.

Pearland took advantage of a wild pitch in the top of the first to score the game's first run, but Pearland returned the favor in the bottom of the first on a wild pitch that tied up the game 1-1.

That's the way the game stood until the fourth when two more miscues allowed Kingwood to score three runs on only one hit for a 4-1 advantage.

Pearland added a run in the fifth to close the gap to 4-2 and then another run in the seventh making the score 4-3.

The Oilers could have possibly pulled the game out in the final frame as they had two runners in scoring position with only one out, but couldn't deliver the possible game-tying or game-winning hit which allowed Kingwood to tie the series 1-1.

In Game 3, the Oilers never had a chance as Kingwood scored 15 runs on 14 hits while Pearland only got two hits and no runs in a game that was called after five innings due to the 15-run mercy rule.

Ryan Finke and Cole Smajstrla were the only Pearland players who were able to get a hit.

The Oilers have a very young team and coach Scalise will see his team bounce back next season in a much stronger way.