HS Baseball: Grand Oaks Survives Tense Matchup on the Road Versus The Woodlands

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 03/26/2024


THE WOODLANDS, TX -- The Grand Oaks Grizzlies outlasted The Woodlands Highlanders in a 4-3 battle at Scotland Yard that could have swung either direction.

The game started slowly, with neither team finding significant traction to generate offense.

Impressive plays from Highlander infielders, such as Brady Breedlove, grounded any potential lift-offs the Grizzlies may have had in the early innings. The effort of the Highlander fielders was aided by a solid outing from pitcher Erich Daigle, who accumulated nine total strikes on the night.

Even with their defense providing ample time to jumpstart the hitting, the Highlanders failed to take advantage of the opening.

Clutch performances from the Grand Oaks infield escaped multiple situations where The Woodlands were poised to score runs with loaded bases. Instead of runs, the Highlanders were turned away, and their effort would have to wait for another inning before picking up the pieces.

The second and third innings saw stellar defense from The Woodlands turn into loaded bases on offense. But even with their bats igniting early and often, the opportunities were never cashed in.

Having no signs of offense through the first three innings, the Grizzlies found their stride to start the fourth.

A lead-off single from Sebastian Seguara was followed by a walk and wild pitch that put two runners into scoring position with no outs. Davin Luck stepped up to the plate with the golden opportunity and slammed a single to the outfield to bring in the game’s first run.

The Grizzlies were not finished with their scoring, as a two-run RBI from Marc Barnhard situated Grand Oaks with a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth.

The Woodlands batters replied with a disciplined approach that saw multiple runners get aboard via walks. The first three batters for the Highlanders reached base from a combination of walks and a hit-by-pitch to load the bases with none out.

Grand Oaks’ best response was to switch pitchers from their starter to Jonas Granados to escape the situation without surrendering a run.

Their escape plan failed in doing so, as the Highlanders remained disciplined, and another walk and hit-by-pitch combo scored The Woodlands’ first two runs.

A conventional run was eventually scored by the Highlanders when Gian Fernandez cracked an RBI single to tie the game at three runs apiece.

With their lead freshly gone, the Grizzlies entered the fifth inning determined to get it back.

Their effort started with a lead-off single from Bennett Hale, followed by a sacrifice bunt to advance him into scoring position. The sacrifice play was worth it, as another single from Luck put runners into the corners against a tired Daigle.

Daigle’s triple-digit pitch count and tired arm finally gave out with a wild pitch, bringing in the tiebreaking score. The Grizzlies failed to add to their reclaimed lead, but a 4-3 lead was enough to rekindle the fire within the Grand Oaks dugout.

Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, their task of finishing the game unscathed would be difficult to complete. The bats stayed hot for the Highlanders, and a single from Tag Giles with two out got a tying runner aboard.

The pressure was compounded when Kyle Hubert and Cash Clayton walked and were hit by another pitch to load the bases at a critical moment against the Grizzlies.

Grand Oaks Head Coach Lou Ferrell was forced into inserting another pitcher to escape the situation, going to Braeden Sanches with the pressure at a fever pitch. Well-placed throws and an unwavering nerve guided Sanches and the rest of Grand Oaks out of the tough situation that served as the last gasp for the Highlanders.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, Coach Ferrell spoke on the fight shown through the intense situations by his boys.

“I’m proud of the way the guys competed tonight,” said a pleased Ferrell. “We dropped a couple of games last week and have had some injuries that have rocked us, but to come back tonight and respond the way we did was big for us.”

The sixth inning saw a double play from the Highlander infield cause a three up, three down situation for the Grizzlies before another defensive save was needed.

Back-to-back walks for the Highlanders gave the team another chance at taking the lead, but their push was turned away again. Sound fielding from the Grizzlies kept the duo of runners stranded at second and third when they were sorely needed for scoring.

The seventh inning was entirely defensive, with neither team being able to change the impending outcome.

Another three-up, three-down half-inning from the Grand Oaks batters provided false hope that The Woodlands might still snag a victory in the final inning.

Unfortunately for the Highlanders, a fresh arm in Grand Oaks’ Barnhard made quick work of the final batters. The only chance of scoring came from a Clayton walk, but a strikeout dashed any last-ditch hopes, and the game concluded with a 4-3 Grizzly victory.

The Grizzly win situates the team in a prime position to stay inside the intense playoff picture of 13-6A. With a rematch against The Woodlands set for Thursday at Grand Oaks, the team will take its learned lessons in the hopes of applying them later in the week.

“We’re just going to try to repeat the same intensity and walk a few less people,” said Ferrell. “It felt like we were in a tight situation every inning, but we held on, and we’ll try to do the same thing again on Thursday.”

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