It was like a heavyweight boxing match Friday night at the UIL 6A baseball state tournament. There was Southlake Carroll, the defending champs, going against Austin Lake Travis in the semifinals at Dell Diamond.
On the Lake Travis roster, three players that were drafted during Day 1 of the MLB First-Year Player draft on Monday, including the 12th overall pick and last year’s Gatorade Texas Baseball Player of the Year Brett Baty, who started on the mound.
But once Baty left the rubber, it was all Dragons.
Justin Grech hit the game-winning RBI single during a four-run seventh inning and Carroll defeated Lake Travis 6-2 to advance to Saturday’s championship game at 4 p.m. against Fort Bend Ridge Point.
“He gave me a fastball outside and I just kind of poked it and got the job done,” said Grech, who went 2 for 4. “We just battled. We know if we get quality at-bats, then we’re going to get runs. I do it for my team and it’s an incredible feeling.”
Carroll (32-11) catcher Yanluis Ortiz went 3 for 4 and cushioned the seventh-inning lead with a two-run single down the left-field line. Ortiz hit two doubles off Baty, who was drafted by the New York Mets.
“It was a big game. We were down, but we kept playing hard,” Ortiz said. “We knew we could come back.”
Ortiz’s second double came in the sixth to put two Dragons into scoring position. Austin Hale, who gave Carroll a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first inning, recorded a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2.
“I was just trying to stay down the middle and sit on every pitch; it was a good night,” said Oritz, who also caught two runners stealing.
Baty allowed two runs on six hits and nine strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
“We wanted to get Baty’s pitch count up,” Carroll coach Larry Vucan said. “We had a hard time seeing the ball out of the hand at first, but we started to put together some good at-bats, draw some walks and work the count.”
The Cavaliers (37-5) chased Carroll starter Cutter Sippel and took the lead in the fourth. Jack Lopez’s RBI single to center drove in Dawson French to give Lake Travis a 2-1 edge, and it could’ve added more with the bases loaded, but relief pitcher Luke Gornell came in and got one out, a grounder to second.
Sippel allowed two runs on two hits with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.
“Cutter did a great job keeping us there,” Vucan said. “Luke is only a sophomore and did an incredible job spotting his fastball and his breaking ball was working well too.”
Tied at 2 in the sixth, Baty, who was hitting .624 on the year, came up with a runner at first, but Gornell induced a pop-fly to left-center. Gornell allowed two hits and no runs in 3 1/3 innings for the win (5-2).
“Luke wasn’t afraid,” said Vucan, who intentionally walked Baty twice. “Got him on a fastball away. That was a pivotal point.”
Ortiz drilled a pitch to deep center for a lead-off double in the first and Hale drove in courtesy runner Homer Bush. Carroll loaded the bases with one out, but Baty registered back-to-back swinging strikeouts.
Seven Dragons came up to bat in the inning, but the Cavaliers matched it with seven in the bottom half. Lake Travis, which made state for the first time since 2012, drew back-to-back two-out walks to tie the game at 1.