"Our guys were able to stay in it. We scored a couple runs, got the momentum and our guys just showed so much energy and fight. We’ve been in some close games but that’s the first one we’ve had in the playoffs and it was a really good step for us to take.”
Katy could have let the pressure get to them on Thursday.
The Tigers could have given up after falling behind to a Tompkins team that had beaten them three times in a row, they could have looked ahead to Saturday or been discouraged after falling behind.
But instead, facing a three run deficit against a team they have struggled against, the Tigers dug deep and found a way back into things, overcoming those three runs and beating Tompkins 4-3 in game one of the three game regional quarterfinal series.
“I’m just proud of them. It would have been easy for our guys to lay down and quit when Tompkins went up three,” said Katy head coach Wes Hearne. “They’ve had our number the past few times we’ve faced them, but our guys were able to stay in it. We scored a couple runs, got the momentum and our guys just showed so much energy and fight. We’ve been in some close games but that’s the first one we’ve had in the playoffs and it was a really good step for us to take.”
Both Caleb Koger for Katy and Ty Dagley for Tompkins were strong in their starts and limited the offense early in the game.
Tompkins was the first to get on the board, getting two runs in the second when Landon West hit a double off the center field wall. The Falcons added a third in the third inning, from a Gavin Brewer hit a sacrifice fly.
Katy found a way back into things immediately after that, getting runners on in the fourth and getting a run back when Reese Rudderman hit an RBI single before trimming the Tompkins lead to one on a suicide squeeze by Josh Dunayczan in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Aaron Brashear came on in relief and worked himself out of trouble to pitch a clean fifth inning. Katy then tied it in the bottom of the fifth when Graham Laxton hit a sacrifice fly. Katy took the lead in the bottom of the sixth on a double from AJ Atkinson that drove in Nayden Ramirez.
“I was just looking for something to drive,” Atkinson said. “He had gotten a bit wild and I knew that he was going to try to attack me with his fastball. I just sat on it and was able to drive it when it came.”
Sophomore pitcher Cade Nelson closed things out with a very strong two innings in relief, striking out five over the sixth and seventh innings and sealing the game one victory.
“I was worried he was going to be antsy because he came in during a big moment, he had a man on with two-three-four coming up. But we talked and Cade just looked at me and said ‘I got this.’ He had all the confidence in himself and he treated it just like any other outing. I can’t say enough about him, he’s a stud.”
It was a hugely important game one to take for the Tigers and gives them an advantage going into the weekend. Games two and three (if needed) will be played on Saturday at Cy-Springs, with game two starting at 5 p.m.
“The biggest thing for us is to get our rest tomorrow but stay ready,” Atkinson said. “Tompkins is going to come at us with everything on Saturday and we have to be prepared for that. So we have to just keep ourselves rested on our off day and be ready to fight and play game two.”