Godley slips by Iowa Park in region finals
No. 8 Iowa Park battled No. 4 Godley this past week in the 1-4A Region Final best-of-three series, with the Hawks bouncing back from a first game loss to hand the Wildcats only their second loss of the season, and forcing a third and final game.
But an attempt by the green and white to prevail in their seventh elimination game of this year’s playoffs came up short 9-5, ending Iowa Park’s outstanding season at 31-7.
Godley (31-2) advances to the state tournament, where they were scheduled Wednesday to face Sweeny (34-5) in the semifinals.
In the other semifinal, unbeaten Argyle (35-0) was set to face Jasper (37-7-1).
“We had the tying run at the plate (in the seventh inning of Game 3), and I really thought we were going to pull it off again,” said Coach Michael Swenson. “But this time it just wasn’t meant to be. That doesn’t change my mind a bit about what these kids have accomplished this season. It was an incredible season all around, and they have something to be truly proud of.”
Godley dominated Game 1 of the series Wednesday night at Justin Northwest High School 12-4. Texas A&M signee Brett Brown kept Hawk bats at bay much of the game, allowing three runs on four hits and striking out six. Nick Menacha earned the save.
The Wildcats pounded out 13 hits in the contest, scoring five runs in the opening frame, then adding single runs in the fourth and fifth, then four runs in the fifth.
Iowa Park kept the game from being run-ruled in the sixth, scoring four runs on RBI singles by Kaleb Gafford and Kase Johnson, and two more on passed balls.
Noah Diaz went 3-for-4 at the plate, while Chris Dickens added the other hit.
Dickens took the loss on the mound, allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits withh three strikeouts and a pair of walks in five innings.
Logan Kimbro, Mickye Fallon and Chance Helton pitched in relief.
Godley was hot early in building a 5-1 lead after two innings Thursday afternoon in Game 2, and leading 6-2 going into the seventh inning.
Iowa Park tallied those two early scores on a double by Derek Hostas to score Braxton Briones, and a single by Justin Thornhill to score Diaz.
Oklahoma signee Chase Lummus was in charge on the mound for Godley until the seventh inning. He ended up allowing five runs and nine hits over six and one-third innings, striking out four.
Menacha, who had closed out Game 1 for the Wildcats, came on in relief, and gave up two runs on six hits in the subsequent two and two-thirds innings.
Hostas, meanwhile, surrendered six runs on 10 hits over six innings with six strikeouts.
In the top of the seventh, Kaden Ashlock doubled to left for the Hawks, then Kase Johnson was hit by pitch, and Briones walked to load the bases.
Menacha then hit Hostas, scoring Ashlock. A sacrifice fly by Diaz to center scored Johnson for a 6-4 game. Then Dickens grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Briones being tagged out advancing to third.
With two outs and two on, Ryder Faulkner doubled to left to score Chad Thomas (running for Hostas) and Cy Lalumia (running for Dickens).
Gafford entered the game in relief, and his effort in the final three innings kept Godley mostly silent, as the Hawks retired 16 of the final 17 Wildcat batters. Gafford allowed no hits and no runs with no walks.
Iowa Park had a chance to go ahead in the eighth inning, when Trent Green singled, reached third on a single by Johnson, and then attempted to steal home on a flyout to right field. It appeared Green avoided the tag, but the umpired ruled he was tagged in the back before touching the plate. Swenson furiously disputed the call, but the third out stood.
In the ninth inning, Diaz singled to left, then stole second, and advanced to third on a single by Dickens to right.
Gafford then singled to left, scoring Diaz for a 7-6 Hawk lead.
Gafford retired the Wildcats in order in the bottom of the frame on two groundouts and a pop out.
The Hawks had 15 hits for the game. Gafford went a perfect 4-for-4 with three doubles and 3 RBIs. Dickens was 3-for-5, and Hostas 2-for-4 with a double and 2 RBIs. Other hits were recorded by Ashlock (double), Johnson, Briones, Diaz, Thornhill, and Green.
In Game 3 Friday in front of a full-capacity crowd, Godley’s bats were again hot early, as the Wildcats built an 8-0 lead through the first three innings.
TCU signee Bobby Goodloe kept the Hawks off the base until the fourth inning, when Iowa Park scored four. Goodloe earned the win, going six innings and allowing five runs on five hits with two strikeouts.
In the fourth, Hostas singled, then Diaz walked, and both advanced a base on a balk. Gafford then walked to load the bases, and Thornhill singled to score Hostas.
Green then hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Diaz.
Gafford scored on a throwing error, and Ashlock singled to right, scoring Ridgley Dietrichson (running for Thornhill) to make it an 8-4 game.
Lummus and Menacha both doubled in the bottom of the fourth to score one run, making it 9-4.
The Hawks loaded the bases in the top of the seventh, and Dickens singled home Johnson for a 9-5 game.
Wildcat freshman reliever Braden Karnes picked up the save. After Goodloe issued a walk to start the seventh, Karnes then allowed the run, and ended the game with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout.
Throughout the state playoffs, the Hawks enjoyed large gatherings of supporters. Swenson and the Hawks definitely noticed.
“We have the best fans in the entire state,” Swenson said. “What they’ve meant to this team over the last six weeks is unreal.
“Most of our games were over two hours away, and that didn’t stop them from coming,” he continued. “It was definitely a home field advantage no matter where we played. Looking up and seeing a packed house is something the kids will never forget. It was so loud as well ... gave us all goose bumps and when we ran onto the field. Our community gets behind our sports teams better than anyone and I can tell you it definitely gives us a little more motivation. Thanks for everything, hope we made you proud!”