ABILENE For the better part of six innings, it appeared that the Permian baseball team was nearing the end of its postseason. But for the second straight day, the Panthers put together a furious late-inning rally and ensure they would keep playing at least one more week.
Permian overcame a six-run deficit with an eight-run bottom of the sixth inning to defeat Trophy Club Byron Nelson 9-7 in Game 3 of a Class 6A area round series Saturday at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field.
The Panthers advanced to face Southlake Carroll in the regional quarterfinals with details of that matchup still to be determined. The Dragons won a pair of games over El Paso Montwood Saturday in Midland to advance.
Both Permian (29-8 overall) and Byron Nelson looked stout defensively in the early going Saturday as neither team was able to get on the scoreboard in the first two innings.
That changed in the top of the third inning when Riley Nelson’s two-run double put the Bobcats ahead of the Panthers. Permian answered in the bottom of the fourth inning with an RBI single by Cade Tschauner to cut the deficit in half before the Bobcats extended the lead in the fifth inning with a two-run triple by Ryan Pruitt in the top of the fifth inning. Nelson and Pruitt drove in two runs each to lead the Bobcats.
Byron Nelson (19-13-3) also took advantage of Permian miscues in the sixth inning, scoring three more times to push its advantage to 7-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Down to potentially the final six outs of the season, the game completely turned around in favor of the Panthers.
Caleb Boswell got the comeback started with an RBI single to cut the deficit down to 7-2. He was one of six straight Permian batter to reach base safely to start the inning as the Panthers chipped away to make it 7-4 with the bases loaded.
The Panthers were able to take advantage of their chances against three different Byron Nelson pitchers in the inning after starter Trevor Packan was relieved in the inning after allowing three runs and five hits while recording three strikeouts.
After a two-run single by Teo Banks brought the Panthers back to within one run at 7-6, Boswell capped off the flurry with a bases-clearing triple to put Permian ahead for good.
Permian reliever Cooper Golden held the Bobcats scoreless in the top of the seventh inning as the Panthers sealed the victory with a final groundout.
Permian head coach Tate Criswell said that Saturday’s effort was one of the biggest comebacks that he’s been a part of and told his team to stay in the fight even when the odds were stacked against it.
“The message is clear, if you play the game the right way it rewards you,” Criswell said. “It rewarded us big time today.”
Earlier in the regular season, Criswell said his team always had a chance as long as it had a strike left. The comeback win proved that to him and his players.
Boswell tried to provide energy for his team when it found itself down on the scoreboard. He said the Panthers have been working hard all season to keep advancing in the postseason.
The designated hitter went 3 for 4 at bat and drove in four runs. Banks pitched five innings for Permian, allowing four runs and five hits. McCray Gann pitched the sixth inning in relief for the Panthers. The biggest takeaway of the win for Boswell was his team’s ability to stay fight back.
“Just keep fighting, don’t give up,” he said.
>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya
Permian 9, Trophy Club Byron Nelson 7
Class 6A Area Round, Game 3
Saturday, Crutcher Scott Field, Abilene
Byron Nelson 002 023 0 — 7 6 1
Permian……… 000 108 x — 9 8 3
Trevor Packan, Seth Brizandine (6), Luke Caussey (6), Benjamin MacDonald (6) and Quaid Tschetter. Teo Banks, McCray Gann (6), Cooper Golden (7) and Peyton Gregory. W — Gann. L — MacDonald. Sv — Golden. 2B — Byron Nelson: Riley Nelson, Ryan Pruitt, Packan. 3B — Permian: Caleb Boswell, Xavier Melendez. Byron Nelson: Pruitt.
Records — Permian 29-8 overall; Trophy Club Byron Nelson 19-13-3.