The outcome of the 2014 Class 5A state semifinal contest between top seed Pearland and the Lewisville Flour Mound Jaguars didn’t come out like Pearland head coach Anthony Scalise had envisioned.
The Oilers entered the game with a sparkling 37-5 mark against Flower Mound who supported a 32-12-1 mark. They also had state appearances in 2003 and 2004. The Jaguars lost in the semifinals in 2003 to Elkins and in the finals in 2004 to Corpus Christi Moody.
The last time Pearland was in the state tournament prior to this year was in 2009 when they fell 4-2 to Lufkin in 11 innings. However, the Oilers do have one state baseball title in 1980. They lost in the 1981 finals and the 1984 state semifinals.
One of the main strengths for the Oilers entering the state tournament was the depth in the pitching staff, plus the strong bats on offense.
No one ever imagined that when the Oilers took the field against Flower Mound that the pitching would come unraveled from the very beginning putting Pearland in an early hole.
Pearland senior Jake Crain got the starting nod, but lasted only 2/3 of an inning as he hit the first batter, struck out the second, walked the third and then surrendered a single scoring a run giving Flower Mound an early 1-0 lead.
Scalise took out Crain and replaced him with junior righthander Stephen McBroom who struck out the first batter he faced, but walked the next two allowing another run to score. McBroom struck out the next hitter for the final out.
Little anyone know that the following innings would become a walk parade or seeing batters getting hit by a pitch.
All total, Pearland walked 12 and hit three batsman while Flower Mound loaded the bases six times.
McBroom issued two more walks in the top of the second, but escape with some good defensive plays leaving the score at 2-0. The righthander was lifted in the top of the third after giving up a hit and two walks to load the bases.
Junior Brendan Owens, who got the win against Brazoswood in the region finals, took over for McBroom but his command wasn’t any better as he walked a pair resulting in two more runs scored and a 4-0 lead.
Then the parade of pitchers took over for Pearland as Scalise brought in sophomore Brady Basso, junior Casey Michna, and junior Andreus Faltesek.
Flower Mound brought home four more runs to build an 8-0 lead through seven innings.
“It kind of makes you sick to your stomach,” Scalise said afterward. “To be at this point in the year and to compete the way we competed on the mound is kind of sickening. Our kids battled all year – they played hard.
“To get to this point of the year is outstanding for our kids, our community and for our school. I just wish we would have competed a little bit better pitching-wise than what we did today.”
Pearland’s bats weren’t producing any threats as Flower Mound starter Kyle Johnston (.000 ERA/10-2) had total command on the mound. Johnston, who is a UT commit, used his 89-91 mph fast ball with a slider to keep the Oilers off balance.
Junior Jacob Almendarez was the only Pearland hitter who was able to threaten Johnston going 2-for-3 in the game while scoring the only run of the game in the final frame making the final score 8-1. Hayden Cole picked up the RBI going 1-for-3 while Ryan Diaz collected the only other hit for the Oilers.
Almendarez was the only Pearland player named to the state all-tournament team.
The senior class is to be congratulated for their outstanding season and leadership. The are: Skyler Valentine, Kamren Dukes, Kalen Johnson, Connor Wong, Jacob Finke, Nathan Carter, Jacob Barfield, Jake Crain, and Hayden Cole.
While this is a strong senior class, the nest is not empty for the Oilers. Coach Scalise is going to have a lot of strong players returning and Pearland should be very competitive next season.