A lack of offensive prowess kept the College Station baseball team from having a chance at a comeback win over Magnolia in a 3-0 loss to the Bulldogs in District 19-5A action Friday night at Travis Field.
With the loss, the Cougars (21-8-2, 9-5) finished third in the final 19-5A standings and will face either Kingwood Park or Montgomery Lake Creek in the Class 5A bi-district playoffs next week. Magnolia (21-9, 12-2) clinched the 19-5A title outright with the win.
“Losing sucks, but a district championship is not a state championship, and ultimately that’s what we’re doing,” College Station coach Chris Litton said. “And are we in good shape to do that? Absolutely. It starts one game at a time, and we’re just looking forward to the opportunity next week to play our first-round opponent, either Lake Creek or Kingwood Park. The Cougars will be ready.”
College Station managed just two hits Friday — a single to right field by Michael Elko in the third inning and a pinch-hit single by Danny Virgl down the right-field line in the sixth. The Cougars hit the ball well most of the night but often hit it into the teeth of the Bulldog defense. Friday’s two-hit performance came after Magnolia held College Station to just one hit Tuesday.
“It’s a hard pill to swallow, but our kids are handling it really well,” Litton said. “They’re in the dugout still in the game cheering for each other. There’s nothing bad going on. They’re handling it well, so I expect the same thing to happen next week but on the flip side of it with good things happening.”
Magnolia took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Bulldogs scratched their first run across on a fielder’s choice groundout to shortstop, scoring a runner from third base. On the next at-bat, third baseman Tyce Armstrong hit a towering fly ball off the left-field fence, easily scoring another runner from third.
After the first, College Station starter Blake Binderup found a groove and retired 11 straight batters before issuing a walk to start the bottom of the fifth. He lasted six innings and kept the Cougars within striking distance late in the game.
“He showed the most composure, and he pitched his best game of the season tonight,” Litton said. “A couple bad breaks early obviously cost us the lead, and we couldn’t muster up any runs, but it’s the game of baseball.”
College Station missed a good chance to score in the third inning. Chanden Scamardo, one of the Cougars’ top hitters, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded but lined out to left field. Second baseman Max Childress tried to score from third on the play but was thrown out at the plate.
“Chanden Scamardo hits a flat line drive that’s hooking in left field that finds the glove of the left fielder with the bases loaded,” Litton said. “That ball gets past him, that’s going to be two runs scored, runners on second and third and one out. Instead, that’s an inning-ending double play. It’s a tough break.”
Magnolia added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on a fielder’s choice.
After the game, Litton gathered his team in right field and said he told them they’re fine and in great shape as the Cougars now shift their focus to the postseason.
“They’re working extremely hard,” Litton said. “The focus is there. They enjoy being around each other, which is very important. They’re very close, so I told them look forward. Guys, let’s just roll now. One at a time, here we go.”
Magnolia 3, College Station 0
College Station 000 000 0 — 0 2 1
Magnolia 200 001 X — 3 5 2
W — Camron Nickens. L — Blake Binderup.
Leading hitters: COLLEGE STATION — Michael Elko 1-3; Danny Virgl 1-1. MAGNOLIA — Tyce Armstrong 2-3, 2B, RBI, run; Camron Nickens 1-3, 2B, RBI, run.