HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL: Permian gets late boost to defeat Midland High in nine innings

For the second straight game, the Permian and Midland High baseball teams needed extra innings to decide a winner.

Much like the second contest of the three-game District 2-6A series, the Panthers recorded timely hits late to secure a 2-1 victory in nine innings Saturday at McCanlies Field.

Permian swept the series after winning the first game 11-2 and Game 2 by a 5-2 score in 10 innings.

“Anybody who paid to get in yesterday and today got their money’s worth,” Permian coach Tate Criswell said. “You look out there, sometimes it’s hard to believe that’s a high school baseball series with the quality of play that was going on.”

Strong pitching from both sides kept the bats cold, with Gus McKay striking out nine batters for the Panthers and Jaron Gignac tallying five strikeouts for the Bulldogs.

Offense was hard to come by, with the teams combining for four hits through the first five innings.

Permian recorded two hits in the bottom of the first but struggled to find batting consistency while maintaining a rhythm on defense to keep the Bulldogs off the board.

Midland High scored first when Luke Ingram reached home plate in the top of the third, running in from first base after an error saw the ball roll to the right field fence.

A line drive single to center field from Hayden Rammage in the bottom of the sixth was Permian’s first hit since allowing the first run, but it didn’t lead to a tying score.

Caleb Boswell was brought in to pinch hit in the bottom of the seventh and it paid off for the Panthers, as his first swing resulted in a solo home run over the center-field fence to force extra innings.

Boswell wasn’t in the original starting lineup, but he knew he had to stay prepared in case his team needed him.

“That moment came up and I just tried to do the best I could in that moment,” Boswell said. “It was amazing, the best feeling I’ve ever had.”

Neither team scored in the eighth, with Permian leaving Hayden Abbott in scoring position.

Midland High had a chance to regain the lead in the top of the ninth when Landry Walls doubled to left field, with courtesy runner Jorge Villalobos moving to third on a ground ball out.

McKay got out of the inning with another ground out, bringing Xavier Melendez up to bat for the Panthers.

On the fourth pitch from reliever Hunter Poe, Melendez tripled to center field, followed by two intentional walks to load the bases.

Callan Warren ended the game with a walk-off sacrifice fly to plate Melendez.

“They did a good job on the mound yesterday and today keeping us off balance, throwing lots of strikes,” Criswell said. “Hitting is a tough thing to do. Offensively in baseball, it’s kind of like basketball, sometimes you go cold.

“When you do that, you’ve got to rely on your defense and for us our pitching to keep us in the game.”

The Panthers (20-3 overall, 9-0 district) have swept two consecutive series, extending their winning streak to seven games.

After walking off the field at the end of the game, Criswell added that Melendez called Boswell the player of the game for his impact play on one pitch.

Boswell knew his play was necessary to help his team swing the momentum in its favor.

“It was big because it just gave them the energy they needed to finish the game strong,” Boswell said.

Permian continues district play against Abilene High at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at McCanlies Field.

>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya