HS Baseball: Conroe Comes Out On Top After Defensive Battle with the Wildkats

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 03/19/2024


CONROE, TX -- The Conroe Tigers defended their home diamond with defensive effort and a 3-1 margin over the visiting Willis Wildkats.

Despite the game that starting Tigers pitcher Eli Medina would eventually have, the team’s first inning was a rough start that put the team immediately behind.

A double with one out was no initial sign of worry, but an infield error on an attempt to tag a runner out at second meant Wildkat Seth Sloan was free to complete his sprint around the bases for a 1-0 Willis lead.

The Conroe defense did shore itself together following the initial miscue and a defensive battle ensued. Neither team could bring in any runs from the bottom of the first to the bottom of the fourth.

Tensions built within both squads and the worry of a small mistake leading to a potential run weighed on the players on the field.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, Conroe Head Coach Jeff Raymer spoke on the things his coaching staff were getting across to the players in the hopes of easing tensions.

“We knew coming into this it was going to be a high-intensity affair,” said Raymer. “What we really focused on was doing the things that we can control and letting go of what we couldn’t control.”

Raymer’s strategy of controlling the controllable worked in getting the Tigers to play a style of baseball they were comfortable with. Medina settled into a rhythm on the mound, which allowed him to sit down eight batters.

Willis was able to rely on their ace on the mound, with Maddox Keo getting the start. Keo’s dazzling display of pitching saw him strike out 11 total batters through five and a half innings pitched, limiting the possibility of runs for Conroe.

“We knew [Maddox] Keo was one of the best pitchers in the district coming in,” said Raymer. “We practiced taking something from them every at-bat so we can have a shot to push ourselves over the edge.”

The breaking point for Willis was in the bottom of the fourth inning when a lead-off single from Chris Kelly set the Tigers up with a chance to tie the game. A wild throw and back-to-back walks from Keo only built the momentum in Conroe’s favor. Then, a shot to right field off the bat of Jared Torres brought home two Tiger runners for a lead-clinching hit.

Additional Tiger runners were left stranded following a third out, but a 2-1 lead for Conroe was a sizable cushion for the team, given their strong defense since the first inning.

The Wildkats had a chance to tie in the top of the fifth after Mason Dutton got aboard on a lead-off single. Two sacrifice plays advanced him to third, but a strikeout from Medina meant a wasted chance for Willis to draw even.

“They’re a team that can hit and a team that can run the bases well,” said Raymer on Willis. “So we tell our guys to take care of themselves and to take care of the job with what we’ve been practicing.”

With their defense keeping the Wildkats in check, the bats had a chance to tack on an additional insurance run before the seventh inning.

A walk drawn by Tanner Trantham was followed by a wild pitch that brought the Tiger to second base with only one out. Medina stepped into the batter’s box and made his mark on offense by hitting an RBI single to make the margin 3-1 in Conroe’s favor.

The continual demonstrative effort from Conroe’s defense ensured that the lethal baserunners of Willis failed to get aboard as the game reached its final inning.

A lead-off walk from the Wildkats was the last time any Willis player would reach the bases, as six straight outs, including four strikeouts from Medina, put the game to rest with the Tigers clinching a 3-1 win.

Conroe’s victory keeps the team unbeaten in district play, but with a tight race at the top of the standings, any wins are welcome wins.

“This win, as exciting as it is, is only one,” said Raymer. “What we’re really trying to focus on is one game at a time. I know that sounds cliche, but in this district, it has to be that way.”

The Tigers will aim to remain perfect in district play with a matchup against The Woodlands, while Willis looks to bounce back against the Cleveland Indians.

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