Blanco Continues To Believe; Earns Come-From-Behind State Semifinal Win

Photo by VYPE Media's Joshua Koch.

Blanco (33-4) entered Friday’s UIL 3A state semifinal with a perfect 9-0 playoff record, but it had bounce back from an early deficit to add another win to that streak. The Panthers, who wear “Believe” on the back of their jerseys, trailed 2-0 against Van Alstyne (29-6) after the third inning, but stormed back for a 3-2 victory. They will play Wall in the classification’s state title game at 9 a.m. on Saturday at Round Rock’s Dell Diamond.

“Right now, we’re on top of the world,” said Blanco head coach Bryan Wyatt. “These guys got a lot of momentum going, and this game you need that. Hopefully, we can carry that into tomorrow morning.”

Van Alstyne took the first lead because it attacked early. The North Texas Panthers recorded three hits and a walk in the top of the first inning to¬†set up Zach Smith’s RBI single and Jake¬†Carroll’s run.

Blanco tried to answer in the bottom half of the inning. Eddie Calzoncit started the frame with a single and a stolen base at second.¬†Then, Jackson Hunter walked, and Tyler LaRue’s groundout advanced his team’s baserunners to¬†second and third. Justin Wardlow also walked, but Baylor Smith hit into an inning-ending double play.

Griffin Johnson’s lead-off double in the second inning gave the¬†Central Texas Panthers another scoring opportunity, but it was followed by¬†Dylan LaRue, Austin Van Pelt and Walton Daves strikeouts.

Van Alstyne took advantage of¬†Blanco’s¬†missed opportunities, and expanded its lead in the third. Tyler Wilson started the frame with a single, advanced to second on Rhett Gallagher’s one-out hit, moved to third on a fielder’s choice, and scored on Zach Smith’s RBI single.

In the the bottom half of the inning,¬†Calzoncit¬†reached base with a single, moved to second on a steal, and advanced to third on Tyler LaRue’s groundout, but finished¬†90 feet from home plate because of a¬†Wardlow strikeout.

Luckily for Blanco, it extended¬†its lead-off hit streak to six innings,¬†and found some scoring along the way. The first run came from Baylor Smith in the fourth. He¬†singled to left,¬†stole second, advanced to third on Dylan LaRue’s groundout, and scored on Van Pelt’s RBI single. The fifth saw Calzoncit’s third hit, which resulted in a triple. He scored the¬†game-tying run after Tyler LaRue’s sac fly.

Blanco was heated up at this point, so it was able to finish its comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Calzoncit recorded a one-out single to start the charge, advanced to second on a balk, moved to third on a throwing error, and scored the winning run on Wardlow’s sac fly.

Calzoncit, who was named the VYPE Player of the Game, finished with a four-for-four hitting performance, plus two runs and a triple.

“I was a big help to the comeback, but, in the end of the day, we’re all playing for a team,” said Calzoncit. “We’re all one. We win as one [and] we lose as one.”

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