Fans at Dallas Baptist University waited until nearly 1 in the morning on Sunday as Colleyville Heritage pulled away late to beat Mansfield Legacy 7-3 in Game 3 of their 5A Region I quarterfinal series.
A game that was scheduled earlier in the week to start at 1 p.m. was one of the many baseball games pushed back due to inclement weather on Saturday.
The two teams agreed on 6 p.m. at DBU only to push that back to 8:15 because of the game before in Corsicana and Joshua, but with a two-hour lightning delay, the Panthers and Broncos didn’t start until 10:15.
After Colby Kroutil (Heritage) and Nathan Mohr (Legacy) both retired the side in the opening frame, it was the Panthers that jumped out to an early lead with a big second inning.
Mason Greer and Chandler Freeman reached base with a hit by pitch and double to begin the inning and Jacob Guerrero drove both runners in with a single to center field.
Two outs and four batters later, Guerrero, who reached third on a Heritage walk and sacrifice, crossed home on a wild pitch to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead.
The Broncos (30-6) led off the bottom half with the lead-off runner reaching base, but the Panthers turned the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. They turned three double plays during Game 2 on Friday.
Nick Balsano walked to start the third and Freeman hit a one-out double to center before Guerrero’s sac-fly plated courtesy runner Jacob Rodriguez to extend the Heritage lead to 4-0.
Legacy got on the scoreboard when Cameron Clark and Kayden Voelkel started the fifth with two singles and Payton Cathey hit an RBI sac-fly to left field. The Broncos inched closer when Clark plated two runs in the sixth off a two-run single to right that scored Nate Price and Game 2 hero Raef Wright.
But the Panthers opened the game up in the top of the seventh. Balsano hit a lead-off single and Greer followed with a double to left. Freeman walked and Guerrero reached on an error as Rodriguez and Greer came to score to make it 6-3.
Max McKiernan added an RBI sac-fly two batters later.
Bobby Witt Jr. retired the side in the bottom half and struck out the last two batters.
Kroutil went 5 2/3 innings and allowed five hits and struck out four.
Cathey, who replaced Mohr in the second, allowed four hits, one run and struck out four in five innings of relief.
The Panthers (33-3), ranked No. 3 in the nation by USA Today, advance to the regional semifinals for the third straight season to face a familiar foe in Amarillo. The Sandies (27-8-1) beat the Panthers in three games in last year’s semis.