Cowboys secure spot in fourth round in dramatic fashion

Coppell to face archrival Southlake Carroll in regional semifinals

Meer Mahfuz, Staff Writer

LITTLE ELM – The Coppell baseball team has had its fair share of success this season after securing Coppell coach Ryan Howard’s first district tite in the Co-District 6-6A Championship as well as sweeping McKinney Boyd and Dallas Jesuit in the first two rounds of the Class 6A playoffs. 

However, one of the most memorable moments in Coppell baseball history happened on Saturday as the Cowboys defeated Prosper (25-13) on a walk-off error in Game 3 of the Class 6A Region I quarterfinals.

Coppell had to fend off comebacks in all three games, rallying to defeat Prosper, 7-4, in Game 1 on Thursday, getting run-ruled in the fifth inning, 12-1, in Game 2 on Friday and rallying to win, 3-2, in Game 3 on Saturday to end Prosper’s season. All games were played at Little Elm.

Coppell eliminated the Eagles in last year’s Class 6A Region I quarterfinals as well. The Cowboys advance to the regional semifinals for the second straight year and for the third time since 2016.

Coppell (27-7-1) sets up a date with archrivals Southlake Carroll (28-8) in the Class 6A Region I semifinals with times, dates and locations yet to be determined.

Game 3: Throwing error downs Prosper, propels Coppell into fourth round

The Cowboys are familiar with late game heroics and have turned to them on numerous occasions throughout the season so Saturday’s one run deficit in the bottom of the seventh was nothing new.

In Game 3 of the Class 6A Region I quarterfinals, Coppell’s heroics were on display again as it scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to eliminate Prosper, 3-2, on Saturday.

Senior left fielder Carter Fields walked and junior shortstop TJ Pompey advanced him to second on a sacrifice bunt. On a 2-2 count, senior right fielder Andrew Nester doubled on a line drive to center field, scoring Fields and tied the game at 2-2.

After senior catcher Walker Polk was intentionally walked, senior designated hitter Landry Fee stepped into the batter’s box. On a 1-2 count, Fee struck out and Prosper senior catcher Easton Carmichael, an Oklahoma signee, attempted to pick-off Polk at first base.

However, the throw to first sailed high and ended up in deep right field, giving the green light for Nester to race home for the series-clinching run off the error. 

“[When Howard gave me the signal to run home] I thought to myself, ‘let’s go, I have to go and we’re going to win this right here’,” Nester said. “It feels amazing, there is nothing in my life experience like that and I might’ve blacked out for a little bit there but there’s never been anything like that. My teammates made sure we had confidence in each other and that we trusted each other and we just happened to get the job done right when we needed to, it feels amazing.”

Nester successfully sprinted 180 feet and beat the relay throw by a fraction off a second to score the run and was met at home by a Coppell dugout that erupted in celebration with water flying in the air.

“I have not seen a game end in that way and it always feels good to win, especially to beat a team of that caliber and that coaching staff is great so it felt great,” Coppell coach Ryan Howard said. 

Coppell took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Polk doubled on a line drive to right field and Fee drove him in with an RBI single on a line drive to center field.

In the fourth, Prosper senior left fielder Jacob Devenny, a Rice signee, walked on a full count.  After stealing second and advancing to third on a passed ball, Devenny was able to score as freshman designated hitter Luke Billings hit a ground ball and reached first on an error by junior first baseman Andrew Schultz, leveling the game at 1-1. 

In the fifth, Prosper took the lead after senior right fielder Brody Boushey homered on a line drive to field for Prosper’s first hit of the game.

Nester had two of the five hits for Coppell with each Nester and Fee having an RBI. Fields, Nester and Polk each scored a run.

Fee started on the mound, allowing zero runs on zero hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Senior reliever Will Boylan went the remaining five innings, allowing two runs on four hits with one strikeout and one walk. 

“Obviously, it didn’t feel like I had my best stuff today and I’m not quite sure what it was but anyone can do it when your stuff is good but it’s about how much you can compete when you don’t have your best stuff and that’s just what I was trying to do today,” Boylan said. “ I was walking around on deck in the bottom of the seventh and everyone started cheering so I was like ‘what’s happening’ and I looked up to see the ball in right field and Nester was rounding third and I just didn’t believe it. The emotion, the energy and the cheering from the stands, it was crazy.”

Game 2: Prosper’s 10-run fifth inning dismantles Coppell, forces Game 3 off run-rule

The Cowboys had not lost a game since April 16 or allowed more than eight runs in any game this season. The astute pitching and defense has been Coppell’s knight in shining armor but Prosper exposed the Cowboys on Friday.

In Game 2 of the Class 6A Region I quarterfinals, Prosper run-ruled Coppell with a 10-run fifth inning as the Cowboys fell, 12-1, in five innings. 

Coppell took an early, onerun lead after Pompey singled on a line drive to left field and Fee drove him in with a single on a line drive to right field. 

Prosper responded in the second as Billings singled on a line drive to left field and Boushey drove him in with a single on a line drive to left field.

In the fourth, junior center fielder Jacob Nelson singled on a ground ball to center field. Nelson advanced to second on a passed ball and stole second with one out remaining. After going up 1-2 in the count, Pompey had the opportunity to end the inning with a strike. However, Pompey’s next pitch sailed high past Polk and Nelson scored on the passed ball to give Prosper a 2-1 lead.

In the fifth with one out, senior third baseman Austin Rogers singled on a ground ball to center field and Carmichael was walked. Devenny hit a ground ball and reached first off an error, allowing Rogers to score and make it 3-1 for Prosper.

Sophomore second baseman Cole Giametta bunted, but the Cowboys threw home to catch junior courtesy runner Harrison Rosar for the out and Billings was intentionally walked soon after. Nelson singled on a line drive to left field to score Devenny and Giametta and make it 5-1 for the Eagles.

The next batter, senior designated hitter Zach Howell, singled on a line drive to left field and scored Billings and made it 6-1 for Prosper.

Pompey was pulled and senior reliever Jake Maggio entered on the mound for the Cowboys.

“I was trying to hit my spots but they just kept hitting them,” Pompey said. “They just kept hitting where we weren’t. It was just a bad day and a bad inning.”

After surrendering a run off a passed ball, Maggio was pulled for junior reliever Bryan Raitz. Raitz surrendered five more runs off three hits before escaping the inning by inducing a flyout. 

Neither Raitz nor Maggio saw pitches on the mound in district play with Raitz last featuring in March and Maggio last featuring in early April for the Cowboys.

The Eagles were walked three times, intentionally walked once and had seven of their 12 hits in the fifth inning. 

Nelson, Devenny, Carmichael and Rogers each had two hits with Carmichael, Devenny and Nelson each having two RBIs as well. 

Pompey lasted 4.2 innings and struck out six while Prosper senior ace Lucas Davenport, a Texas A&M signee, went five innings, allowed one run on three hits and struck out six.

Game 1: Late flurry of home runs completes Cowboys comeback, downs Prosper

As a packed crowd filed into the stands of Little Elm, there was a feeling that the matchup between the Cowboys and Prosper would provide a viewing spectacle for fans.

Game 1 of the Class 6A Region I quarterfinals did not disappoint as a three-run homer from Pompey and a solo-homer from Polk in the top of the sixth completed the Cowboys rally and downed Prosper, 7-4. 

Prosper took an early lead in the bottom of the second as Billings, a Tennessee commit, homered on a fly ball to left field.

The Cowboys equalized as sophomore second baseman Michael Russell singled on a line drive to left field, Fields sacrificed him to second and Pompey scored him with an RBI single on a line drive to left field.

In the third, Giametta singled on a line drive to center field to score Carmichael. Subsequently, Billings stepped up and doubled on a fly ball to left field, scoring Giametta and Devenny to give Prosper a 4-1 lead, completing a stretch where the Eagles had five consecutive hits off senior Andrew Nester.

Schultz came on in relief for Nester in the third inning.

“They were seeing Nester well and they are a good hitting team,” Coppell coach Ryan Howard said. “We’ve got guys that I’m confident in to come in and throw strikes but Nester has been a workhorse for us, he limited the damage, it didn’t get out of control and he kept us in the ball game. They were getting some pretty comfortable swings on him but that doesn’t change the confidence we have in him.”

Prior to both of Billings’ hits, errors committed by the Cowboys allowed BIllings to capitalize  on the newfound opportunity each time.

“That’s why this game is so difficult and that was just one of those innings,” Polk said. “Those things are going to happen and you’re going to have to put it behind you, you’re never going to be perfect. Baseball is a game of failure so just putting those mistakes behind us, moving forward and not carrying it over into the next inning was big for us.”

In the fourth, the Cowboys chipped away at the deficit with Fields singling on a ground ball to shortstop, scoring Boylan to make it a tworun ball game. 

“I’m honestly not surprised we won but also, just in the moment, it was crazy and we’re a relentless team,” Fields said. We’ve gone down all year, we’ve fought back and this is a brotherhood, we know how to win.” 

With two outs in the fifth, junior third baseman Tanner Sever doubled on a hard ground ball to left field, scoring Nester.

With one out in the sixth, Pompey crushed a slider to left field for a three-run homer, scoring Russell and Fields. 

“I just knew how to put the bat on the ball and not do too much,” Pompey said. “My last at-bat  I did too much. I just knew I had to put a barrel on it because they gave the velocity. So my last at-bat, it was a slider and  I just knew I had to just put a barrel on it. We had the best atmosphere and to see the ball go over the fence and to hear the crowd’s reaction, it was huge.”

One out later, Polk barrelled on a line drive to center field for a solo-homer to end the night for the Cowboys.

“I was just trying to put a good swing on it,” Polk said. “I wanted a pitch I could handle and it felt great. I didn’t think I hit it that far but I guess I did.” 

Billings collected two hits (one homer), three RBIs, walked and scored in three plate appearances to lead the Eagles offensively. Prosper totaled nine hits 

Nester lasted 2.2 innings, surrendering four runs on eight hits with one strikeout, one walk and one homer. Scultz and Boylan combined for 4.1 scoreless innings in relief as Boylan allowed one hit and Schultz walked two.

Coppell scattered nine hits with Pompey’s two hits leading the Cowboys.

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