One of the pitfalls that comes with stacking UIL playoff baseball games at the same venue trapped Colleyville Heritage on Thursday night.
The Panthers had to wait out a Class 5A Region II marathon at Dallas Baptist’s Horner Ballpark nearly 90 minutes past the scheduled 7:30 p.m. first pitch for Game 1 of their Class 5A Region I quarterfinal against Mansfield Legacy.
On a school night, no less.
But the delay didn’t put the country’s third-ranked team to sleep.
Bobby Witt Jr. went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and three runs scored, and Aidan Caputi allowed three runs in a complete game as the Panthers rolled to a 13-3 win in six innings.
Colleyville Heritage scored multiple runs in each of the first three innings, getting contributions up and down the lineup. Witt, projected to be a top-five pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft next month, ended the game with a sharp RBI single down the third-base line.
“It was an awesome team win,” Witt said. “Aidan went out there and did his thing, just dominated. That’s why we call him ‘The Surgeon.’ Just the whole team getting the hits and playing defense ... we were out there having fun.”
The Panthers had to rally, though just from a 1-0 deficit in the first after the Broncos opened the game with consecutive singles and parlayed them into the game’s first run.
But the Panthers countered with three in their half of the first, a rally Witt started with a one-out single past third. He scored the Panthers’ first run on a Mason Greer double to center.
The rally, as well as catcher Nic Balsano eliminating a leadoff single in the second with a caught stealing, seemed to settle down Caputi. He retired eight straight at one point and posted scoreless innings in the second, third and fourth as the Panthers extended their lead.
“It’s really about just getting into a groove,” said Caputi, who hadn’t pitched in more than a week. “With the defense that I have behind me, I just need to focus on not trying to overthrow stuff and do too much and trust the seven D-I players I have on the field with me. Just let them do the work.”
The Panthers added two in the second, with Witt scoring on a Balsano single, and pushed across five more in the third for a 10-1 lead. The big hit was a two-run double by second baseman Joey Koetting, batting ninth, and Witt added a sacrifice fly two batters later.
The Panthers’ rally was aided by a couple Broncos errors.
“That’s when we play our best, when everybody plays,” Caputi said. “Yeah, last week we won 2-0 and Bobby hit a home run and a triple, but this is how we’re our best. This is how we’re going to win baseball games in the playoffs as teams keep getting better and better, when everyone’s playing together rather than one person playing amazing.”
Witt tripled off the top of the left-field wall with one out in the fifth and scored one of the Panthers’ two runs in the inning to counter the two the Broncos scored in the top half.
He gave the Panthers the 10-run advantage to end the game in the sixth with his second single.
“I was just trying to do good for the team and keep our season going,” Witt said. “Everyone has each other’s back and you know that, so it’s been a blessing with the team and we’ll just try to keep it rolling tomorrow.”
The Panthers and Broncos resume their best-of-3 series Friday night at 7:30 at DBU. Game 3, if necessary, is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.
The winner advances to the Region I semifinals against the winner of Amarillo vs. El Paso Bel Air.