Once the clock struck midnight, the George Ranch baseball team’s season ended.
The Longhorns pulled some late hours after a two-hour, 15-minute delay, but Clear Springs worked to get an 8-3 win at the Ranch on Thursday to take the 6A bi-district series, two games to none.
The Chargers, who won the first game 2-0 on Wednesday, scored at least one run in the last four innings of the game, while George Ranch couldn’t respond after a controversial call changed the momentum in the game.
Even though light rain hit the field for most of the evening, the game was delayed as lightning was being detected in the area, pushing the start of the game to 9:15 p.m.
Clear Springs was ready to go at the late start, pushing home a run on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Mason Schultz, who brought home right fielder Kai Woodard. But George Ranch responded in the bottom of the inning, as second baseman Trent Fuqua had a RBI single that scored outfielder Jacob Wilson. Then after another hit and a sacrifice bunt, a wild pitch allowed Fuqua to score to put the ‘Horns ahead.
Outfielder Brandon Kostelnik later would get a RBI single that scored Easton Malin that put George Ranch up 3-1 after the first inning.
The lead lasted until the third inning, when Woodard blasted a two-run home run to left field off George Ranch starting pitcher Jacob Surratt to tie the game at three.
The Longhorns had a chance to retake the lead in the bottom of the inning, as they loaded the bases with two outs. Clear Springs starting pitcher Braden Clifton went into his windup, but stopped, then continued to throw a strike. George Ranch head coach Greg Kobza came out of the dugout to contest for a balk, which would have scored a run. But the umpires ruled Clifton was stepping off the rubber and not a balk. Clifton continued and struck out designated hitter Gage Graham to get out of the inning.
Clear Springs capitalized on the Longhorns’ frustrations in the fourth inning by getting a couple of runners on base, allowing pinch hitter Cameron Cooper to lace a two-run double that put the Chargers back ahead, 5-3.
Surratt left the game after the hit, giving up four runs off of only two hits, but walked five in his 3.2 innings of work. He also had nine strikeouts.
The Chargers added a run each in the next three innings off of George Ranch reliever Preston Allen. He gave up three runs on five hits and a walk, striking out three.
The Longhorns had a chance to get momentum back on their side in the sixth inning, but a hit by Wilson had catcher Fisher Byers on his way home, but the throw by Charger centerfielder Chase Arnaud was in time for catcher Jacob Carpentier to tag out Byers.
Clifton held George Ranch to five hits and three runs in his 5.2 innings of work, walking five and striking out six. Reliever Cory Patterson held the Longhorns in check the rest of the way, only allowing a walk and a strikeout.
Clear Springs advances to the area round of the playoffs against Humble Summer Creek or Beaumont West Brook. The Chargers are 15-9-1 on the season.
George Ranch ends the season with a record of 16-11-1.