The Fossil Ridge baseball team defeated Weatherford 4-3 at QuikTrip Park on Thursday in a single-game bi-district playoff, advancing to area playoffs. In a loss of a coin flip, The Panthers had only one shot at a win, as Weatherford chose the single-game option over a best-of-three series.
“We definitely wanted to play a series,” said head coach Doug Dulany. “Anything can happen in one game, especially with them having that big arm. They have an outstanding pitcher who throws hard.”
The Weatherford pitcher, Beau Burrows, was no doubt the impetus for choosing the single-game playoff, but Fossil Ridge matched the ace with one of their own. Senior starter Kanniel Rivera-Gonzalez had a rough start but managed to turn things around.
“They led off with a triple and had the bases loaded with no outs. Then we had a really big momentum shift,” Dulany said. “Kanniel struck out three in a row to get out of it. He settled in after the first inning and got better as the game went on, and went three-up three-down in the last four innings.”
The Panthers added to their defensive success with some smart moves at the plate.
“We had some really good at-bats and we had talked about making him (Burrows) throw strikes,” Dulany said. “We also had some timely hitting. We knew he’d walk five or six in the game and when he did, we came up with the timely hits to score those four runs.”
With 13 seniors on the team, including eight starters, experience will be key as Fossil Ridge faces Amarillo Tascosa this Friday in the area series. The two teams have met before in preseason tournaments and Dulany knows not to underestimate the match-up.
“Tascosa may have been fourth in their district, but they are not a typical fourth-place team,” he said. “But for us, winning this game that didn’t go our way early, getting that momentum and turning it around, goes a long way toward our confidence level and shows we can beat any team.”
Central to the team’s success is the fact that everyone contributes.
“This is a team of a lot of pretty good players without one real standout,” Dulany said. “This is our third year in a row to go to playoffs, and we have four guys who have signed to play college ball. We just have a lot of good players and we are experienced, and that is our strength.”
Regardless of the outcome of the rest of the playoff games, Dulany knows his players have given their best.
“We are really proud of our team,” he said. “They showed a lot of resolve to have the ability and confidence to get out of that jam, and respond and win. It shows a lot about our kids.”
The Panthers will face Amarillo Tascosa in the Class 5A area series this weekend. Game 1 will be played on Friday at 4 p.m. Game 2 will be played Saturday at 11 a.m., with a third game at 2 p.m. if necessary. All games will be held at QuikTrip Park in Grand Prairie.