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Cardiac Cats advance to Regional Quarterfinals 


Numerous times this season the Aledo Bearcats baseball team has rallied late in a game or in extra innings to pick up a much-needed win. It’s become so commonplace, the name “Cardiac Cats” has become a fitting moniker for this 2024 team.

The Class 5A area (second) round best-of-3 series against Colleyville Heritage ended up being the quintessential “Cardiac Cats” win. Aledo started off the series taking a Game 1 loss, 4-1, on Thursday, May 9. With their backs against the wall heading into Game 2 on Friday, May 10, Aledo bested the Panthers 7-3.

With the series tied at 1-1, Colleyville Heritage had the series all but wrapped up with a 2-1 lead in Game 3 heading into the seventh inning. The “Cardiac Cats” struck again, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh to secure the come-from-behind 4-3 victory, as they now advance to the Region I quarterfinals against Argyle.

“I felt like we came out in Game 1 and played about as bad as I have seen us play all season,” said head coach Chad Barry. “We didn’t hit, we didn’t field well, and we just weren’t as sharp with our off-speed stuff on the mound. After that I felt like we really responded well. We have talked about how you respond to adversity; how you bounce back. I felt like we did just that.

“They came out in Game 2 and looked like the team I have been used to seeing all year. They pitched well, played good, solid defense, and hit,” he added.

Game 3

As he’s done often this season, Brennon Evans displayed his maturation from the 2023 to 2024 seasons to become a quality bat in the lineup for Aledo. The Bearcat backstop started off the top of the seventh with an infield single to put the tying run on base. 

Seeing a lot of pitches and going deep into counts has been a point of emphasis for Barry all season. In a pressure situation, trailing late in a ballgame, it’s difficult to remain disciplined standing in the box. 

With the tying run on base, Weston Nance was able to do exactly what he was supposed to do. Rather than becoming overzealous, Nance kept his head, working himself into a full count. Furthermore, He managed to restrain himself from chasing a bad pitch as the payoff pitch sailed wide of the strike zone. With the walk, Aledo quickly went from a desperate situation to a favorable one, with runners on first and second with no outs.

After a pitching change by the Panthers, Barry opted to go with a little more speed on the basepaths, bringing in Jackson Parker and Rhett Spiers to run at second and first, respectively. 

Following an attempted bunt that resulted in a pop out to the pitcher, the Bearcats found themselves in a tough situation where a double-play ball could end the game. Luke Trager hit a sharp grounder through the infield into left. Parker scored from second to tie the game up at 2-2, while Spiers and Trager ended up at second and third.

Following the game-tying double by Trager, Blake Burdine battled through an eight-pitch at bat before finally drawing a walk to load the bases for Aledo with only one out.

A 1-1 offering was lined back to the pitcher, who threw home to get the lead runner, ensuring the game stayed knotted up at 2-2.

Still looking for the opportunity to give the Bearcats a lead in Game 3, team captain Boyd Thompson stepped into the box. Thompson took a look at the first-pitch strike before barreling up the second pitch of the at bat. Thompson hit a fly ball to center field that dropped in for a single as Trager and the younger Burdine came around to score.

Trailing for the first time in the game with their season hanging in the balance, the Panthers came up to bat in the bottom of the seventh determined not to go quietly. A single, a sacrifice bunt, and a pair of walks to start off the bottom of the seventh, and Colleyville Heritage was poised to do some damage of their own with the bases loaded and one out. 

Aledo pitcher Luke Sandefur managed to produce a ground ball. Thompson came up with it at short, made the throw to second for out No. 2, but the Bearcats were unable to complete the double-play to end the game. The Panthers scored a run on the fielder’s choice, cutting the lead to 4-3 with runners at the corners and two away.

With the tying and go-ahead runs both on base, Sandefur delivered his first pitch to the next hitter. The ball was chopped down the line to Jones at third. Jones fielded the ball cleanly, then made the throw across the diamond in time to record the final out as the Bearcats took their next step in the playoff picture.

“Going into Game 3, I knew we were up against their big lefty. We just said go out and be aggressive at the plate. Put the ball in play and try to keep pressure on them. I thought we hit really well on Saturday. We just couldn’t seem to get the big hit we needed early in the game. I thought we did a great job of not getting frustrated stranding so many runners on base. We just kept grinding out at-bats and finally broke through. Overall, I am so proud of their grittiness and fight,” Barry stated.

A tale of two games

Aledo came out flat in Game 1 of the series. The Bearcats didn’t hit the baseball well. They didn’t pitch it well. They didn’t field it well. Overall, they didn’t appear to be the same team that secured the District 5-5A title against some stalwart competition just weeks before.

The missteps allowed Colleyville Heritage to claim Game 1 with relative ease in a 4-1 victory.

Game 2 was a resurgence for the Bearcats. They looked poised in the batter’s box and confident in the field. In seven innings of play, Aledo scored runs in four of them, including the top of the first to put the pressure on the Panthers right away. 

The day after racking up just two hits, Aledo strung nine hits together as they put seven runs across the plate to tie the series up at a game apiece.

Next up

The Bearcats will next face Argyle (25-6-2) in the Region I quarterfinals. The Eagles are ranked No. 7 in the state by the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association. All games are at Southlake Carroll High School.

Game 1 is Thursday, May 16 and Game 2 is Friday, May 17, both at 7:30 p.m. A third game, if necessary, is set for Saturday, May 18 at noon.


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