State-ranked No. 2 Colleyville Heritage scored three runs in the fifth inning to take a lead it would not relinquish as the Panthers defeated the Aledo Bearcats, 4-2, in game three of a best-of-3 area championship series Saturday afternoon at Northwest High School.
The Panthers will move on to the regional quarterfinals and play the winner of the Fort Worth Arlington Heights/Denison series.
The Bearcats finish the season with a bi-district championship and a 24-10 record.
“I told the guys after the game that I would not trade them for any high school team in Texas,” Bearcats head coach Chad Barry said. “They fought for 21 innings, and they never laid down for a second. They fought their rears off the entire time. I could not be more proud of them. Our guys played tough, but it just didn’t work out for us.”
Trailing 3-2, the Bearcats loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth inning. Garrison Berkley reached first base after being hit by a pitch, and Tripp Jones and Gehrig Mosiello each drew a walk to load the bases.
However, relief pitcher Chandler Freeman got out of the jam with a strikeout. The Panthers called on closer Bobby Witt Jr. – who earned a save in the Panthers’ win Friday night – and he retired three of four Aledo batters in the seventh to earn the save as the Panthers clinched the series.
Freeman was the winning pitcher, allowing no runs on no hits with two walks and a pair of strikeouts in 1-1/3 innings. Tim Richmond started on the hill for Heritage, allowing two runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
Aledo starting pitcher Hunter McConathy allowed three runs on five hits with a walk in four innings. He also pitched to two batters in the fifth. Chance Roberts came on in relief, allowing a run on three hits with a walk and a strikeout in two innings.
After Heritage took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, the Bearcats came back in the top of the fourth with a pair of runs to take a 2-1 lead. Hunter Rosson led off with a line-shot double down the left-field line to begin the rally. Rosson advanced to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly to left field by Berkley.
The next batter, Zach Reinert, walked, and he advanced to second on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Tripp Jones. Reinert scored when Autry Johnson followed with a base hit to center field.
The Panthers took the lead for good in the fifth frame, with the big hit in the inning a two-run triple by Witt. Heritage catcher Nicholas Balsano also drove in a run, on a base hit.