DALLAS — It was worth the wait, and both Arlington Martin and Keller Fossil Ridge delivered the clutch hits needed to decide the Class 5A Region I quarterfinal series.
It was Martin center fielder Andrew Dowdy, though, who got it done in the top of the seventh inning Saturday with a bloop single to right that scored the game-winning runs in a thrilling 4-3 Warriors win over Fossil Ridge at Dallas Baptist.
Martin (32-7-1) took the series 2-1 and moved on to face Hurst L.D. Bell this week in the regional semifinals.
“I’m in charge of giving the speech between innings and I’m a big believer in practicing what you preach,” Dowdy said. “So it was a real good time for that to happen.”
Dowdy’s single was the ultimate blade in a knife fight at the end.
Fossil Ridge ace Sheldon Neuse had not only pitched well, he also gave the Panthers (29-9-1) a 3-2 lead with a three-run homer in the sixth.
The shot on a 3-0 fastball cleared the 330-foot wall in left by about 50 feet, and it atoned for a mental error in the top of sixth that allowed Martin to break a scoreless tie with two runs.
But Dowdy came to the plate in the seventh with the bases loaded and one out.
Neuse hit the first batter he faced and retired the next on a fielder’s choice before issuing a walk and striking out cleanup hitter Anthony Lyons.
With Martin down to its final strike, Daniel Lingua took an outside curveball to set things up for Dowdy.
Dowdy dropped a 1-2 pitch into right in front of a hard-charging Brandon Charnecki. The ball short-hopped into and then out of Charnecki’s glove, scoring Matthew Walker and Joshua Watson.
“That was big. This being his senior year, I think he deserved it,” pitcher Turner Larkins said. “Shows what kind of team sport this is, because I gave up a three-run homer and it didn’t faze him.”
Larkins was strong in an 83-pitch effort, holding Fossil Ridge scoreless and giving up only four hits before Neuse struck paydirt.
Neuse threw 130 pitches in the loss, giving up four earned runs, seven hits, four walks and eight strikeouts.
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