It might have been a two-game sweep, but it didn’t come easy.
As they have done all season, the young Pearland Oilers didn’t go down without a battle, but in the end, the No. 6 state-ranked Deer Park Deer left the Pearland oil patch knowing they were very lucky that their season would continue.
In the first game, Pearland starting pitcher Matt Adams shut down the offensive firepower of the Deer Park bats as he allowed only three hits while pitching a complete game.
Unfortunately, the Deer pushed across one run in the sixth inning and made it stand for a 1-0 win in the best-of-three series.
“Adams threw well, exactly like he has all year,” Pearland head coach Anthony Scalise said. “He gave us a chance to win, but Deer Park can really pitch, and we didn’t adjust.
“We didn’t get the two-out hits when we needed them. At the end of the day, when you don’t score at least one run, you have no chance to win.”
Pearland had chances to score in several innings, but couldn’t get the clutch hits they needed.
In the opening inning, Parker DeLeon got a one-out double, moved to third on a ground out, but a strike out by Deer Park starter Peyton Sherlin left DeLeon stranded.
In the sixth inning, DeLeon walked and stole second with one out, but Sherlin got Andrew Flores to ground out before striking out Aeneas Enriquez.
In the sixth inning, Deer Park’s leadoff hitter was hit by a pitch. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second and then Adams intentionally walked the next hitter putting runners at first and second to set up a force out at third.
Deer Park got a single by Josiah Ortiz to load the bases and that set up an infield single by Reece Moon that brought home the only run of the game.
Pearland managed five hits off Sherlin, but the clutch hit with runners in scoring position never happened as the Oilers fell 1-0.
Deer Park 7 – Pearland 5
The never-say-die Pearland Oilers entered the seventh inning trailing 5-2 and it appeared that their season would be coming to an end.
But head coach Anthony Scalise has seen this same scenario in the previous best-of-three series with Clear Falls as the Oilers trailed the Knights in the first game 5-2 in the final at bats only to score four runs in the top of the seventh and come away with a 6-5 win.
Then the Oilers trailed the decisive third game 10-3 only to score nine runs in the final two frames to emerge with a thrilling 12-10 victory sending them to the area round of the playoffs against Deer Park.
Such was the case against the Deer. Not only did the Oilers tie up the game in the bottom of the seventh, but they had a chance to pull out the win. But like the first game, the clutch game-winning hit wasn’t there when they needed it.
The Oilers began the comeback with pinch-hitter A.J. Knowles who smashed a single to centerfield that brought in Deer Park relief pitcher Adrien Gonzales.
But Pearland greeted him with four straight singles by Jacob Whitehead, Parker DeLeon, pinch-hitter Cole Smajstrala, and Joseph Barfield.
Barfield’s laser shot bounced off the leg of Gonzales’ leg and then shot into an open space at shortstop that allowed two runs to score and knot up the game at 5-5.
With runners at first and second with no outs, Mason Lytle bunted both runners up a base putting the winning run at third.
Pinch-hitter Cameron Kimball was intentionally walked to load the bases.
With a chance to pull out the game, Pearland’s Ryan Weaver attempted to squeeze bunt, but the ball was quickly played resulting in a 1-2 force at home for the Oilers second out.
Jacob Doyle stepped up to the plate hit a deep blast to left field which was caught sending the game into an extra inning.
“If we lay down a bunt and place it where it needs to be, we win,” Scalise said. “We come the next day and who knows what happens, but that’s the game of baseball.
“Our kids battled, and we can’t be disappointed in the effort, just the outcome.”
After Deer Park scored two runs in their half of the eighth, Pearland had a chance to win in their last at bats.
The Oilers loaded the bases on singles by Matt Adams, DeLeon, and an intentional walk to Barfield with two outs.
However, Lytle went down on strikes leaving the bases full and a 7-5 loss.
Each team had 10 hits with Barfield producing three RBIs and delivering five impressive innings on the mound in relief.
“We’re young and we return a lot so it should be exciting for us the next few years,” Scalise said. “We just have to learn from this on how to get it done.
“We’re usually pretty good about that, but we weren’t this time.”
The Deer Park head coach was very complimentary of the Oilers.
“It’s never going to be easy when you come to Pearland,” head coach Chris Rupp said. “Pearland’s guys are young, and they’re going to be good for years to come. We feel fortunate to get out of Pearland with two wins.”
The Oilers should be very proud of their effort this season. Coach Scalise and his staff always do an exceptional job with the players and they will be a force in the year ahead.