AP NEWS

Reagan hangs on to complete series rally over Westlake

May 19, 2019

Travis Sthele stared into Austin Westlake’s dugout for a few seconds shortly after he enticed Grant Roosman to swing and miss at a third strike.

The punchout sealed Reagan’s 6-5 victory in Game 3 of their Class 6A regional quarterfinal series Saturday at North East Sport Park. It gave the Rattlers some redemption after they dropped Game 1 Thursday in the same venue, forcing them to win Friday and Saturday to advance.

Sthele, Reagan’s hard-luck loser Thursday, had 19 pitches remaining before reaching his limit for the series. Reagan coach Chans Chapman called on him to thwart a Westlake rally.

“I knew if it came down to the wire that I could come back and pitch,” said Sthele, a junior. “I was grateful that I capitalized on the opportunity.”

Reagan led 6-4 when Sthele entered in the top of the seventh with no outs and runners on second and third. He came in for reliever Jared Sherer, who gave up a solo shot to pinch hitter Sage Luther, a walk and double in the seventh.

Sthele was the losing pitcher in Thursday’s 2-0 defeat despite getting nine strikeouts. After the game, Sthele told Chapman he would be ready if needed on Saturday.

“That’s all I needed to hear,” Chapman said.

Chapman put Reagan’s season on the fortunes of Sthele’s right arm.

“I wasn’t feeling real comfortable with runners on second and third and nobody out, but we know when he’s on the mound, he gives us our best chance to win,” Chapman said. “He proved it.”

Sthele struck out Taylor Anderson and got Ford Elliott to fly out to right field. Denton Apple scored on Elliot’s sacrifice to trim Reagan’s lead to 6-5 with two outs. Roosman followed with a strikeout to end it.

That sparked a wild celebration on the Rattlers’ part. They were on the opposite end Thursday when the Chaparrals staged a loud celebration in right field. As Chapman addressed his team Thursday, he told his players to look at it.

“I was trying to let my guys know how excited they were to beat us and it was just Game 1,” Chapman said. “We have plenty of guys who have been in big games and big series. I just wanted our guys to see (Westlake) thought the series was over.”

Sthele said the Rattlers took it to heart, and it helped them even the series with a 2-1 victory at Westlake on Friday.

“They were very excited about that first game,” Sthele said. “That kind of fired us up in Game 2 and got us some momentum.”

Westlake out-hit Reagan 9-4, but five Chaps pitchers issued eight walks, including two with bases-loaded. Westlake also hit a batter with bases full.

The Rattlers jumped out to a 6-0 lead after four innings on Saturday.

Reagan scored twice in the first inning when Sthele scored after Luke Hoggatt was hit with a pitch with the bases loaded. Cal Martin came home on Stayton Ankrom’s grounder to third base.

The Rattlers made it 5-0 in the third. JT Moeller and Hoggatt drew bases-loaded walks and Martin singled in a run. They added a run in the sixth on Ankrom’s run-scoring single.

That gave Moeller, the Rattlers starter, plenty of support. Normally a closer, Moeller was asked to get as deep into the game as possible. He picked up the win after going 51/3 innings.

“I knew I had to throw strikes and pound the zone and trust the guys behind me,” said Moeller, who had two strikeouts.

Bobby Serfass hit a solo shot off Moeller in the fifth inning to get Westlake on the board. He was lifted after yielding run-scoring hits to Elliot Schwarzbach and Leo Lowin in the sixth to cut the Rattlers lead to 6-3. Sherer came in and got Serfass to line into a double play to shortstop.

“It ain’t a one game that defines a series,” Chapman said. “You just gotta keep playing and keep playing and hopefully, we’d get some bounces to go our way and things would work out.”

dhinojosa@express-news.net

Twitter: @hinojosa_david

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