Berwick High School players, along with Andrew Askew's father, Carter, celebrate with Askew, seated, after the senior's walk-off hit in the bottom of the eighth inning of the decisive game of Berwick's Class 3A quarterfinal series lifted the Panthers to the state semifinals for the first time since 2007. Berwick won the third game, 6-5. The Panthers took game 1, 5-2, Friday, but fell
4-3 in the second game. Berwick now will meet No. 7 South Beauregard Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at McMurry Park in Sulphur. (Submitted Photo/Courtesy of Greg Roussel)
Askew's RBI hit lifts Berwick to state tourney
The Berwick Panthers punched their ticket to Sulphur and clinched a berth in the Class 3A State Tournament this past weekend by defeating No. 6 Buckeye in dramatic fashion.
The No. 3 Panthers defeated Buckeye two games to one in the schools’ best-of-three quarterfinal series at the Panther Diamond with a thrilling 6-5 comeback victory Saturday.
Berwick (26-10 overall) jumped on top early in the final contest.
After three walks issued by Buckeye starter Alex Hockersmith in the first inning, Berwick shortstop Kyle Pitre reached on a run-scoring infield single with two away to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Some Buckeye (28-8 overall) fielding miscues helped Berwick extend the lead as the game progressed.
First, Pitre reached safely on a throwing error at shortstop on a play that would have ended the third inning.
Instead, the throw sailed over first base and gave Berwick a 2-0 lead.
The Panthers plated two more runs in the fourth via two strange and separate pop flys that fell and allowed runners to reach base.
On the second one, a run scored to give Berwick a 4-0 lead, one play after an RBI double down the left field line from Mitchell Sanford had made it 3-0.
Berwick took advantage of another pop up that fell in on the infield grass in the fifth inning and later used an RBI sacrifice bunt from Cody Roberie for a 5-0 lead.
Just as it looked like Berwick and starting pitcher Grant Oubre were cruising, Buckeye came roaring back in the sixth. Drew Schultz laced a two-run double to the wall in left-center to trim the Berwick lead to 5-2, and an error at second base with two away gave Buckeye another run to make it 5-3.
With Berwick still needing just three outs to advance, it took Buckeye just a handful of pitches to tie the game in the seventh. Oubre hit Austin Daily with a pitch with one out, and then Ryan Jeansonne, who had been pitching in relief for Buckeye since the fourth inning, crushed a monstrous two-run home run into the woods beyond the left field wall for a game-tying shot that evened the score at 5.
Even as the visiting Panthers’ bench erupted onto the field in celebration, the inning wasn’t over just yet.
Buckeye threatened off Berwick relievers Collin Kulka and Patrick Robertson, drawing three consecutive walks, before Robertson got Hunter Soreide to pop out.
Buckeye threatened again in the eighth, loading the bases for the second straight inning before Berwick reliever Denver Jenkins got Hockersmith to pop out to end another bases-loaded jam.
Wiley then started the Berwick eighth with a leadoff walk before advancing to second on a bunt from Bradley Gray.
That set the stage for Andrew Askew, who ripped a 2-1 pitch from Jeansonne down the right field line for a game-ending single to give Berwick a 6-5 walkoff victory.
The celebration on the field was the ultimate mix of emotions for both teams. As Askew was mobbed by teammates, coaches and eventual few fans who poured onto the field, Buckeye walked off the field solemnly.
Askew, who made a brief exit earlier in the game due to cramping issues, said he knew he’d gotten the winning hit as soon as it left his bat – even as everyone else collectively held their breath.
“I knew it was getting down,” said Askew, one of nine Berwick seniors on the roster. “I had a feeling he was coming with a fastball because he was behind in the count. I knew it was going to work out wherever I hit it.”
For Berwick to overcome losing a 5-0 lead and still find a way to win showed heart, Panthers coach John Menard said.
“We told the guys to keep competing and keep our head,” Menard said. “We’ve talked to them all year about keeping their emotions in check. It’s the seniors’ last time playing on this field, regardless of what happened. (Askew’s) last at bat would have been him getting pulled due to cramps, so for him to get that hit and pull through was really awesome.”
Having to rely heavily on his bullpen earlier in the season also gave Menard hope for the latter innings Saturday.
“They won some games for us earlier in the year,” said Menard. “Lately, our starting pitching has been doing a good job, and we haven’t had to use them much, but they were still working and doing drills so they were ready.”
Jenkins, the fourth Berwick pitcher used, earned the win after pitching 0.1 innings.
Oubre started on the mound for Berwick and pitched 6.1 innings. He surrendered five runs (four earned) on six hits with three walks, one hit batter and four strikeouts.
With Saturday’s win, Berwick moves on to face No. 7 South Beauregard in the state tournament semifinal round, scheduled for Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Sulphur’s McMurry Park.
Bringing nine seniors to Sulphur will give the Panthers plenty of experience going into the game.
“These guys play a lot of baseball throughout the summer on different teams and leagues,” Menard said. “They’re battle-tested, so that experience is going to help. I’ve been to the semifinals a few times as an assistant, and we’ve been prepping them about the atmosphere and what it’s like. I think all of that will help us. I’m very proud of them and happy about the way they competed.”
Buckeye coach B.J. Crain said his team left everything on the field and had nothing to be ashamed of.
“We really expect a lot from our kids and expect them not to give up,” Crain said. “We had opportunities,and that’s all you can really ask for. They had their backs against the wall after Friday and were down 5-0 (Saturday in game 1). I told them they should be proud of themselves and walk out of here with their heads high.”
Berwick outhit Buckeye, 8-7 in Saturday’s series finale.
Sanford (2-for-3 with a double and an RBI) and Price (2-for-4, two runs) led the Panthers’ offense. Other top Berwick offensive contributors included Roberie, 1-for-1, a double, an RBI and a run; Askew, 1-for-2, an RBI; Gray, 1-for-3, an RBI; and Pitre, 1-for-4, an RBI.
Tory Carman (3-for-4) had three hits to lead Buckeye.
Jeansonne suffered the loss in relief. In four innings, he surrendered two runs (one earned) on three hits with six walks and four strikeouts.
Hockersmith started for Buckeye, and in 3.1 innings, he surrendered four runs (three earned) on five hits with three walks, two hit batters and fanned one.
Buckeye 4, Berwick 3 (Game 2 of 3)
After taking the opener on Friday night to go up 1-0 in the series, Berwick fell to the visiting Panthers in a hard-fought loss in the series’ second game Saturday.
With the tying run at third base in their last at bat of that contest, Askew flied out to end the game as Buckeye forced the winner-take-all third game.
Buckeye scored two runs in the first and two more in the third for a 4-0 advantage.
Berwick scored all of its runs in the fifth inning.
Price started for Berwick and suffered the loss. In six innings, he surrendered four runs (all earned) and six hits. He struck out seven, walked two and hit one batter.
Josh Humphries earned the win. In six innings, he surrendered three runs (three earned) on four hits with two walks, one hit batter and five strikeouts.
Marcus Derbonne led Buckeye with a 2-for-3 performance with an RBI.
Sanford led Berwick with a 2-for-4 performance with two doubles and a run. Askew added a 1-for-3 performance with a triple and an RBI, while Wiley had an RBI.
Berwick 5, Buckeye 2 (Game 1 of 3)
Berwick scored all of its runs in the bottom of the fourth inning for a 5-0 lead in Game 1 Friday, while holding Buckeye to just two sixth-inning runs.
Wiley earned the win as he tossed a three-hitter. In seven innings, he surrendered two runs (two earned) with three walks, one hit batter and 11 strikeouts.
Oubre led Berwick with a 2-for-3, performance with an RBI, a stolen base and a run. Other top Berwick offensive contributors included Sanford, 2-for-4, an RBI and a run, and Wiley,
2-for-3, two doubles.
Tyler Welch suffered the loss. In six innings, he surrendered five runs (two earned) on eight hits with one walk and fanned six.
Jeansonne led Buckeye with a 1-for-3 performance with a home run, two RBIs and a run, while Hockersmith finished 1-for-3 with a double.
The Daily Review Sports Editor Geoff Stoute contributed to this story.