The old words of wisdom by the late Yogi Berra came true when he said, “It ain’t over till it’s over” as it relates to the amazing rallies by the Pearland Oilers in defeating the Clear Falls Knights in a Class 6A Region III best-of-three series.
Not once, but twice the Oilers pulled a win out of the jaws of defeat to take the series and advance to the next round of the playoffs.
In the first game, Pearland entered their final at-bats down 5-2 in the top of the seventh.
That began the first miracle rally when the Oilers scored four runs in the frame, for a 6-5 lead and then shut out the Knights to pull out the win.
With the bases loaded in the seventh, Ryan Finke got a clutch three-run hit that tied the game at 5-5.
Jacob Whitehead stepped up next to lace a single to left field to plate Finke with the go ahead run making the score 6-5 that would stand giving the Oilers the important first-game of the series win.
Colby Casey pitched 4 2/3 innings and also fanned six. Matt Adams finished the game for the save for the Oilers.
Clear Falls 6 – Pearland 2
In Game 2 — Pearland fell behind early and couldn’t come back in a 6-2 loss to Clear Falls forcing a deciding third game in the best-of-three series.
Clear Falls scored three runs in the top of the second for a 3-0 lead, but the Oilers managed to score one run in their half of the inning to cut the lead to 3-1.
But the Knights scored three more in the top of the fifth making the score 6-1.
The Oilers scored a single run in the bottom of the seventh, but it wasn’t enough as the series was tied 1-1 with the 6-2 loss.
Four Pearland pitchers took the mound for the Oilers, but none had the answer to stop the bats for Clear Falls as the Knights scored six runs on 10 hits while Pearland managed two runs on seven hits.
Clear Falls had four doubles and one homer in their offensive showing.
Pearland 12 – Clear Falls 10
It appeared the game between Pearland and Clear Falls was almost over before it began as the Knights jumped out to a commanding 6-0 lead in the first frame.
The offensive show of power by Clear Falls featured a double, single, and a grand slam home run that produced the first six runs.
Pearland scored in the top of the second to cut the margin to 6-1, but the Knights added two more in their half of the inning to make it 8-1.
The Oilers scored again in the third making the score 8-2, but Clear Falls scored two more for a 10-2 advantage.
Pearland kept fighting as they scored again in the fourth to cut the lead to 10-3.
Pearland head coach Anthony Scalise brought in Mason Lytle on the mound and the Oilers shut out the Knights the rest of the game.
That’s when the Oilers entered the final two frames on offense to come away with the unlikeliest win of the season.
In the sixth, Pearland used singles by Lytle, John Thomas, Cole Smajstrla, Jacob Whitehead, and Andrew Flores along with a hit batter to cut the lead to 10-7.
But the Oilers weren’t finished.
In the seventh, a pair of one-out singles by Thomas and Smajstrla followed by a walk to pinch hitter Ryan Finke loaded the bases.
A pickoff at third base with Whitehead at the plate proved costly as the ball sailed wide of its mark allowing two runs to cross the pay station to pull the Oilers within 10-9.
Parker DeLeon then tied the game 10-10 with a sacrifice fly to right.
Whitehead followed by stealing second and came around to score when a grounder to third resulted in a wild throw to first giving the Oilers an 11-10 lead.
Joseph Barfield singled to left sending Flores across the plate for a 12-10 lead that would stand for the thrilling come-back victory.
“I told them if you lose, you lose, but at least compete,” Scalise said. “Those first three or four innings, we were dead out there.
“We stuck in freshman Cole Smajstrla, and he goes 2-for-2, smoking the ball twice in his first varsity playoff game. We threw the entire staff with the exception of one guy, and Lytle came in and stopped the bleeding.
“We told our hitters, whether it’s the first pitch or third pitch, if it’s there, swing at it. We did, and man it paid off.”
Barfield was 4-for-5 at the plate with one run scored and two RBIs. Lytle was 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Thomas was 2-for-2 with two runs scored. DeLeon was 1-for-2 with one run scored and two RBIs. Smajstrla was 2-for-2 with two runs scored.
The Oilers will now face the Deer Park Deer in a best-of-three series beginning on Thursday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. Game 2 will be on Friday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. Game 3 (if necessary) will be on Saturday, May 13 at 12:00 noon. All games will be played at Pearland High School.