Grapevine starting pitcher Kyle Flamm certainly had some jitters when he threw the first pitch of the Class 5A state semifinal against Whitehouse on Thursday afternoon at Dell Diamond.
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But after the Wildcats put three runners on base against Flamm and came away empty-handed and the Mustangs offense rallied for five runs in the bottom of the first inning, it’s Grapevine that will play for a state title Friday after a 7-0 win over Whitehouse.
Yeah, I was nervous the first couple of innings. But we got some big plays there and put up that five spot early and I settled in and just felt comfortable knowing I had some great defense to back me up.
Grapevine pitcher Kyle Flamm
The Mustangs (34-6-2) will return to Dell for the 7 p.m. title game against San Antonio Alamo Heights or College Station.
“Yeah, I was nervous the first couple of innings,” Flamm said. “But we got some big plays there and put up that five spot early and I settled in and just felt comfortable knowing I had some great defense to back me up.”
Flamm’s first inning was interesting to say the least, but he worked out of the jam thanks to the arm of right fielder James Wyche and a broken-up double play ball where interference was called.
With runners on first and second, Wyche came up throwing home after he couldn’t reach a shallow single by Whitehouse’s Tanner Roach.
It was a big-time play in a big game and that’s what you have to do in these do-or-die games.
Grapevine coach Steve Hutcherson on James Wyche throwing out a runner in the first inning
Grapevine’s Tanner Gibson was waiting at the plate and put the tag on the Wildcats’ Clayton Pruitt.
“That play was huge and really elevated our guys a little bit,” Grapevine coach Steve Hutcherson said. “Now we know it’s possible and if we can get some pitches and some hits, we can get it to go our way.
“It was a big-time play in a big game and that’s what you have to do in these do-or-die games.”
With the early threat gone, Grapevine’s bats continued a torrid stretch in the postseason.
The Mustangs batted around the order and chased Whitehouse starter Ryan Walls after he gave up five runs and four hits.
After loading the bases, Gibson plated a run with a sharp hit down the third base line that was misplayed and trickled into left field.
That allowed Connor Neuman and Ty Jones to score, as well as pinch runner London Green.
The Mustangs were up 3-0 before recording an out.
Neuman was 2 for 4 with two runs scored, Flamm was 3 for 3 and Boone Montgomery was 2 for 3.
Flamm (9-1) went the distance, scattering five hits and striking out two.
“That’s what he does. I know people wonder why they can’t hit that guy, but he frustrates people and throws a lot of strikes and gets a lot of outs,” Hutcherson said. “He’s been amped up in every playoff game, but because of what he did, we’ll have all hands on deck for tomorrow and that’s all you can ask.”