Three outs away from another first-round exit, the Westlake Chaparrals found a way to extend their season.
Westlake scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning in a 4-3 victory over Cedar Ridge. The win came a night after Cedar Ridge opened the best-of-three bi-district playoff series with a 4-3 win of its own.
Westlake, the last Class 5A team from the Austin area to reach the state tournament, had been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.
“We’re tired of getting knocked out in the first round,” Westlake senior Aaron Black said.
Cedar Ridge and Westlake both scored on groundouts in the third inning and Grant Klumpp, who drove in Cedar Ridge’s first run, hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning. Down 3-1, Westlake got a run back in the bottom of the fifth inning but the Chaparrals stranded a player on third base in the sixth inning.
Westlake senior centerfielder Alexander Cabezas opened the bottom half of the seventh inning with a single to left field and Zach Suarez was hit by a pitch from Cedar Ridge’s Trevor Bragadeste. Suarez, Westlake’s catcher, was replaced on the bases by Ryan McPhail and Carson Spencer then loaded the bases with a bunt single.
After a flyout to left field, Westlake had Gordy Taylor lay down another bunt and Cabezas beat the baseball home.
On the next play, Black hit a grounder up the middle. Cedar Ridge forced Taylor out at second base but Westlake’s designated hitter easily beat the throw to first base and McPhail scored the game-winning run.
“When I hit it, it could have been a ball but I was just trying to put it in play,” Black said. “I knew I was going to beat it out but it was just so exciting.”
Cabezas, Suarez and Spencer were the last three hitters in the Chaparrals’ batting order. Spencer also had a double in the third inning that led to Westlake’s first run.
“We all have confidence in each other,” Suarez said. “We can always back each other up no matter who is up there.”
Westlake (23-12) and Cedar Ridge (20-10-1) will close out their bi-district series on Saturday on Cedar Ridge’s campus. The first pitch is set for 1 p.m.