Temple and Bryan Rudder lived up to the expect-anything script that’s been prevalent in the series dating back to the teams’ bi-district playoff encounter in 2016 and including the Wildcats’ 4-2 come-from-behind win over their rival March 20 of this season.
The Wildcats and Rangers combined for just five hits, nine walks, six hit batters and 17 runners left on base Friday night. Oh, and each had a runner thrown out at home plate. And, when the dust settled on the latest installment — and as a storm hovered all around Hallford Field — Rudder walked out of the visitor’s dugout as a 2-1 winner, pulling within a half-game of Temple for second place in District 18-5A. College Station leads the league.
Left-handed starting pitcher Tanner Treat, who fanned 16 in the teams’ March showdown, struck out four and walked four in 5 2/3 for Rudder (12-8, 6-2). He gave way to Matthew Everett with two outs in the sixth. Everett induced Vance Willis’ pop out to end a two-on, two-out threat in that frame then worked a relatively clean seventh to finish off the Wildcats (14-11, 7-2), who committed two errors and left nine runners on base.
Temple starter Eli Mendoza went seven innings, giving up three hits, walking four, hitting five and striking out five.
“We made some errors. Errors got us beat. I say errors got us beat but we had chances. We had guys in scoring position all night and we couldn’t get them in. That’s what happens when you go up against good pitching,” Temple coach Toby Rumfield said. “It’s disappointing because the kids have been working hard. It’s a letdown right now but we have to move on. We still have some good things ahead of us. What we can’t do is lose focus now.”
Mendoza beaned Rudy Schultz with two outs in the second, and the Rangers cashed in the mistake with Treat’s RBI double to center field for a 1-0 lead.
Willis battled back from down 0-2 in the count and drew a walk to lead off the third, and T.J. Rumfield chased in the speedy center fielder from first with a single to left field to tie it at 1.
Hunter Dobbins’ triple to start the fourth was canceled out when the Rangers’ third baseman was thrown out at home trying to advance on Mendoza’s wild pitch. Dobbins’ head-first slide was met by Mendoza, who took catcher Emilio Gonzalez’s throw from near the backstop and turned to make the tag in time. The fourth-inning adventure continued with another walk, hit batter and wild pitch, however, Mendoza escaped the jam by striking out Treat to end the frame.
Temple loaded the bases with one out in its half of the fourth only to have its rally phased out in a hurry when Jonathan Flores skied a 3-1 pitch down the right-field line, where Jacob Piper caught the ball in foul territory then fired home to get Brandon Goynes tagging from third for the inning-ending double play.
Rudder had its bases-loaded opportunity in the fifth and managed to squeeze one across — the eventual winning run — using a walk, infield single and two errors, the second of which plated Josh Munoz from third after Xavier Aviles fielded Dobbins’ grounder at second and flipped to the bag for Brandon Goynes, who bobbled the ball as he tried to throw to first to turn what potentially was an inning-ending double play.