Silsbee catcher Colby LeBlanc tags a Bridge City runner at home to stave off a score. - Photo by Daniel Elizondo
Spotting any baseball team four runs is asking for punishment. Spotting the no. 9 team in the state four runs – well its almost like throwing in the towel.
For the Silsbee Tigers, it was simply fuel for the fire.
Looking to avenge an earlier 5-4 loss to Bridge City in 21-3A action for the top spot, Silsbee turned the tides on Saturday afternoon at Silsbee High School field and gave the Cardinals a taste of their own medicine.
With their backs to the wall and tied 4-4, Silsbee (20-4, 8-1) played patiently and put down the Bridge City Cardinals at the bottom of the seventh inning on walk-off line drive down the third base foul line by Adam Valencia to claim a 5-4 victory. The run came with one out and the victory left two Tigers stranded in what now has become a tie for first in 21-3A between Silsbee and Bridge City.
“This just shows how our team will respond in any situation,” Head Coach Michael Nelson said. “We don’t let anything get us down. We responded being four runs down. This is what this team is all about – finding a way to win.”
Down 4-0 heading to the bottom of the third inning, senior shortstop Montana Garcia hit a double fly in deep centerfield to lead off in the inning. Catcher Colby LeBlanc then blasted a 2-run homer over right-center that hit a tree in the woods that was roughly 320 yards out. Silsbee was back in the game at that point trailing 4-2.
On one out in the inning, Valencia hit a fly to deep centerfield fence before being knocked in on an RBI single line drive from Dusty Thibodeaux to inch Silsbee to within 4-3 going into the fourth inning. Valencia finished with two doubles in the win for the Tigers.
In the fourth, Silsbee starting pitcher Tyler Powell kept Bridge City at bay and the Tigers sat down Bridge City with three up, three down at the top of the fourth.
Senior Brayden Griffin led off the fourth inning with a double to deep centerfield before advancing to third base on a sacrifice bunt from Colin Shellhammer and a ground out by Chris Nesbitt. On two outs, Garcia reached base on a walk giving Silsbee runners on the corners.
With LeBlanc at bat, Coach Nelson sent Garcia to steal second base and baited Bridge City pitcher to pick off Garcia in a rundown. The bait worked, giving Griffin the opportunity to steal home to tie the game 4-4.
Bridge City threatened in the fifth inning after a blooper single put a runner on base, then advancing to second base on a passed ball. But the Tigers finished off a double play to end the inning and stop the threat.
In the seventh inning and still tied, Bridge City led off the inning reaching base on a throwing error to first base, but the runner attempted to advance to second base and was picked off from LeBlanc, who was backing up the mishandled play.
Two Cardinal batters were then struck out by Powell and another grounded out, giving Silsbee a chance at the bottom of the seventh.
Garcia led off the inning, getting struck out by Bridge City’s relief pitcher Chase Shugart. LeBlanc and Jordan Gore both reached base on walks with one out.
Valencia then hit a line drive shot over the third baseman that hit within the foul line to drive in LeBlanc for the win.
Bridge City took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single with two outs by Shugart to drive in Keaton Langston, who had reached on a single. The Cardinals upped their lead in the third inning scoring three runs, one unearned on a Silsbee error.
LeBlanc, Valencia and Griffin all finished with two hits in the win including one double each by LeBlanc and Griffin. Garcia finished with one double.
Powell went the distance on the mound for Silsbee allowing eight hits on four runs scored. He finished with four strikeouts and one walk.
Bridge City relief pitcher Shugart suffered the loss after giving up the winning run.
Earlier in the week, Silsbee rallied to defeat Buna 4-3.
Down 3-2 in the sixth inning, Silsbee scored two runs in the seventh to win.
Gore led at the plate for Silsbee going 2 for 3 with three RBI’s. Garcia was 1 for 3 and scored two runs for the Tigers. Thibodeaux was 1 for 2 with a walk.
Powell earned the win in relief on the mound for Silsbee in one inning. Gore was the starting pitcher for the Tigers going three innings before being relieved by Griffin, who went three innings.
The Tigers will play at Hamshire-Fannett on Friday and will host Hardin-Jefferson on Tuesday, April 23. Silsbee’s final district game of the year will be at West Orange-Stark on Friday, April 26.