Both the Grizzlies and visiting Kell bunted early, stole often and played small ball for the better part of seven innings. In the end, however, Creekview did a better job of minimizing mistakes and came away with the 3-1 victory.
Kell coach Donnie English said his team just threw the ball away too many times. The Longhorns (3-4, 0-2 Region 7AAAAA) had costly errors in the second and third that led to Grizzlies runs.
“We did a couple things that gave them runs,” English said. “We just aren’t executing. We hurt ourselves. We beat ourselves. Until we stop doing that, we aren’t going to win many.”
After three scoreless innings, Kell got on top in the fourth. Jamari Moore singled up the middle and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Brice O’Brien. A single by Bradley Taylor drove in Moore before Creekview pitcher Ryan Zentko induced a pair of groundouts to end the inning.
Creekview (4-2, 3-0) was quick to respond and used a Kell error to get the job done.
Chase Puckett singled to center to lead off the inning and a sacrifice bunt by Zentko moved him to second. Zach Murdock took Puckett’s place on the basepaths and quickly moved to third when a pickoff attempt sailed into the outfield.
With Murdock on third, Avery Smith hit a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game at 1-all. Moore made a diving catch in the outfield to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Grizzlies did it again.
Ryan Stevens hit a bloop single to left, and R.J. Knecht entered to run for Stevens. Kyle Wilkie bunted Knecht to second before C.J. Sims’ groundout advanced the runner to third. With two outs and left-handed hitter Steven Whitaker at the plate, the Grizzlies got their signals mixed and Knecht made a move toward the plate.
Kell catcher Kerrigan McManigal popped up with the ball and moved toward third. McManigal’s throw to third was off the mark, and by the time it was fielded, Knecht had scored on the wild play for the 2-1 lead.
“We were trying to get 90 feet at every single opportunity, no matter where it was,” Creekview coach Mike Nayman said. “Ninety feet to first base, or between second and third. Both teams were doing it. I think both teams understood that both pitchers were locked in early. It turns out that crazy play at third base shifted the momentum. It was a miscommunication and, all of a sudden, we had something going.”
Kell was unable to get another runner on base, and Creekview added an insurance run when Chandler Wold took the first pitch in the bottom of the sixth over the outfield wall.
Nayman said the home run wasn’t so much about taking a 3-1 lead as much as it was allowing Zentko to focus on the batter at the plate.
“They’ve got some guys that can swing it,” Nayman said. “It let Ryan focus on the batter because one guy wasn’t going to beat us.”
Georgia Tech-bound Zentko pitched the complete game, allowing one run on two hits and no walks, while striking out six — including Brady Smith, Rocky Brown and Carsten Hughs in the seventh.
Smith also pitched seven innings for Kell, with Wold’s homer the only earned run, to go along with one walk and four hits.
English said that part of his team’s problem was its inability to move runners — or even get them on base.
“We had just two hits (Friday) night,” said English. “We got one hit (Thursday) night (in a loss to Forsyth Central). It’s like we’ve never seen it, like we’ve never hit a baseball before.”