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May 11--J.T. White hadn't pitched in a while, and at times Tivy fans wondered if he'd make it through Game 3 of the Antlers' best-of-3 area playoff series on Saturday at Dripping Springs.
But White battled through his jams, relied on his defense at times and threw more than 120 pitches in a complete game as Tivy won, 3-1, and clinched the series to advance to the Region 4 quarterfinals next week.
The Antlers bounced back from a 4-1 defeat in Game 2 earlier, turning to the senior White in the deciding game.
"My teammates were supporting me the whole game. Just an awesome team win," White said. "I'm so proud of the guys, glad to have another week with them."
The Antler hitters feasted on Dripping Springs mistakes in the third inning for the eventual winning run. Ray Swyers tapped a soft grounder to Tigers pitcher Zach Zamora, whose overthrow to first allowed Swyers to swipe second and third base on the play. Senior Brett Hill brought in Swyers with a sacrifice fly to center field.
"We had seven seniors starting this year, and we felt like that was going to be a key for us. They have stepped up," Tivy coach Steve Rippee said. "Usually year in, year out, you win with your seniors. They've been there before; they know what it takes. Young kids learn from them."
With the game on the line in the late innings, Tivy flashed more glovework that's become the norm this postseason for the Antlers.
Perhaps the play of the game came in the bottom of the seventh when Charlie Overstreet doubled over left fielder Swyers' head and Jonny Pressley, who reached earlier on a walk, rounded third and headed home. Swyers delivered a strike to home where Pressley was tagged out, and White then caught designated hitter Matt Weaver looking to end the game.
"I knew I just had to hit the cutoff. Coach Rippee always praises hitting the cutoff man in that situation," Swyers said.
With Zamora on second and no outs in the fifth inning, first baseman Hill, playing on the grass, scooped a slow roller and fired to third to retire Zamora. White later loaded the bases with back-to-back walks but struck out Weaver to end that threat.
"That's a hard play. You don't usually see that," Rippee said of Hill's assist.
Shut down by Dripping Springs' Game 2 starter Chance Callihan, the Tivy offense emphasized more early aggression in Game 3. It paid off when Tres White singled through the left side to plate Swyers and put the Antlers ahead 1-0 after the first inning.
"We knew we had to come out with the bats a little bit. We came right out of the gates scoring one run. That was huge," J.T. white said.
White put early pressure on himself but did not concede a run through the first five innings. He caught Overstreet looking with two outs in the third and runners on first and second, and he got a strikeout and flyout to end the fourth with a runner on second. White also loaded the bases on back-to-back walks in the first, but Weaver's fly out ended the inning.
"I obviously didn't have my stuff. I was a little wild," White said.
White walked seven batters, including each of Overstreet's four plate appearances, but also struck out seven batters. Rippee wasn't nearly as critical of White's performance.
"J.T. did a heck of a job on the mound for us today," Rippee said.
Tivy added insurance in the sixth when Jacob Neal's single scored Tres White, who led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt.
White's lone run allowed came in the sixth via a Zamora sacrifice fly.
Next up for Tivy is a Region 4 quarterfinal series with Buda Hays. Hays defeated the Antlers in both of the team's district game. Times and locations have yet to be announced.
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