“The positive is that this happened this week and not next week,” said Katy head coach Wes Hearne. “We have a chance to come back from this one but next week it’s one and done. The biggest thing for us is we have to come back out tomorrow swinging."
Katy couldn’t get anything going on Thursday.
For the first time these playoffs, the Tigers couldn’t bounce back in a game, as they managed just two hits in a 7-0 loss to Pearland in game one of the Class 6A Region III Finals.
“The positive is that this happened this week and not next week,” said Katy head coach Wes Hearne. “We have a chance to come back from this one but next week it’s one and done. The biggest thing for us is we have to come back out tomorrow swinging. We haven’t had our backs to the wall all postseason so now we get to see how we can respond.”
It was a pitchers battle early in the game. Caleb Koger got through the first three innings of the game without any trouble and Pearland’s Nico Partida worked around a bases loaded jam in the second inning as neither team got on the board in the early innings.
The game turned in Pearland’s favor in the fourth inning. After a ground out the Oilers got two runners on with walks and both came around to score on an Isaiah Castaneda single. The Oilers got a third from a sacrifice bunt before Brett Smajstrla drove in another with two outs to give the Oilers a four-run lead.
Katy went to its bullpen to start the fifth, but it came with struggles. Pearland loaded the bases again and got a run from a wild pitch, but Arvey Huerta limited the damage by getting a strikeout and a double play to end the inning. Pearland added runs in both the sixth and seventh innings to seal the game.
Katy wasn’t ever able to get the bats going after the second inning, The Tigers weren’t able to get a runner in scoring position over the final five innings as Katy wasn’t able to mount a comeback.
“Their guy hit his spots really well and pitched a good game,” Hearne said. “He didn’t really keep us off balance, but he was able to pitch exactly where he wanted to. We put the ball in play but just weren’t able to put many barrels on it.”
The loss was the first for Katy in these playoffs and the test will now be bouncing back after the setback.
Game two will be played 7 p.m. Friday at Constellation Field in Sugar Land.
Katy still has yet to pitch some of their strongest pitchers, with Lucas Moore, Cole Kaase, Cade Nelson or Aiden Barrientes in the series, and having so much pitching at their disposal gives everyone in the dugout confidence.
“We have a lot of confidence in those guys,” Hearne said. “We have some power arms coming in and if we’re pounding the zone then I think we have a good chance. We got the ooh’s and ahh’s over with today with the ballpark, now it’s all business and the guys know what they have to do.”