Outfielder’s clutch hits keep Warriors alive in playoffs

Posted Monday, May. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Drew Dowdy considers it his favorite game to ever play in.

Martin’s senior center fielder was at the plate with the Warriors on the brink of elimination, down to their last strike. Rather than give into a season-ending defeat, Dowdy delivered a clutch two-run single that sent Martin past Keller Fossil Ridge in the decisive third game of the third round of the 5A baseball playoffs.

With the dramatic comeback victory, Martin advanced the regional semifinals, where the Warriors faced Hurst L.D. Bell over Memorial Day weekend for the second year in a row. And for the second week in a row, Dowdy delivered the clutch RBI. His last-at-bat hit in Game 2 against Bell advanced the Warriors to the regional finals, where they will face Southlake Carroll.

Dowdy, a UT-Arlington recruit, never doubted that he or one of his teammates would come through in the clutch.

“You live for the pressure,” Dowdy said. “You love those ones. That’s the best kind of game to play. That’s honestly my favorite high school game to play in.”

Against Bell, Martin took Game 1 easily Thursday with a 9-1 final. In Game 2, which started Friday but had to be finished Saturday because of rain, Martin trailed 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh. Dowdy came to the plate with the bases loaded and hit a drive off the right field wall for a walk-off victory.

Whether it’s after a win or a loss, Martin coach Curt Culbertson doesn’t let his team dwell long on the emotions of one game. After the coach addresses the team, a player is instructed to shut a door in the locker room, Dowdy said. The gesture symbolizes forgetting about the just-completed game and thinking instead about the next one.

“Shut the door on that one,” Dowdy said. “It’s over.”

Martin entered Game 3 against Fossil Ridge hoping to shut the door on the Panthers’ season. The Warriors took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. Ace pitcher Turner Larkins had stymied Fossil Ridge bats the entire afternoon until Sheldon Neuse, who was also the Panthers’ starting pitcher, belted a three-run homer. Martin now trailed 3-2 heading into the final inning.

Martin, though, touched up Neuse in the top of the seventh, loading the bases for Dowdy. He stepped into the batter’s box with two outs. But Dowdy said he didn’t recall feeling nervous or excited.

“There was no way around it,” Dowdy said. “It was right there — all or nothing.”

Lyons felt confident that Martin would at least score one run to tie the game . “I don’t expect us to go down just taking a loss like that,” Lyons said. “I had a feeling when we had the top of our lineup coming back up there’s no way we can’t get one guy on and bring him home.”

Dowdy swung and missed at a curveball in the dirt on the first pitch. “I had a feeling another curveball was coming,” he said.

Sure enough, it did. But Dowdy didn’t miss this time. He hit a blooper into right field, giving two runners time to cross the plate and turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead.

“I hit it and said to myself, ‘Please land, please land,’” Dowdy said. “I wasn’t nervous going up there [to bat] and then I realized how big it was and went, ‘Whoa! Wow.’”

Martin’s pitching and defense slammed the door shut in the bottom of the seventh to move onto the next round and the next challenge.

“That was a great game to be in,” Dowdy said. “It’s tough and tiring but you kind of love it.”

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