Relegated to a one-game playoff for the right to play in the UIL state baseball tournament next week, the Tomball Cougars took a couple of innings to loosen up enough and get into the rhythm that propelled them to 32 wins in 36 previous games.
But, once they did, the Cougars powered their way past the Foster Falcons and into the Class 4A state semifinal round with a 10-0 six-inning run-rule victory at Reckling Park at Rice University on Thursday night.
The Cougars scored all their runs in their final four at-bats, posting two in the third, five in the seventh and three in the top of the sixth inning to push Foster to the brink of elimination against Tomball starter Nick Banks.
Banks carried a one-hitter into the bottom of the sixth and had retired 11 Falcons in a row and 15 of 16 batters he faced after giving up a leadoff single to Foster’s Conner Parker.
Banks surrendered a two-out single to Hunter Kasuls in the sixth, but retired James Du Val to end the game and send the Cougars to the school’s first-ever trip to the state tournament.
Banks, making his first start of the postseason, finished the game with nine strikeouts. At the plate, he went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
His two hits were part of a 14-hit attack that was led by Anthony Lucas and Josh Covey, who each had three hits. Lucas and Ishmael Edwards both drove home two runs and Dillon Menville led the team with three RBI.
With a 33-4 record, Tomball will be the top-seeded Class 4A team in the state tournament, but they must wait for the outcomes of the other Class 4A regional finals to know who their semifinal opponent will be.
Under the UIL’s guidelines, the top two teams, based on win-loss record, will be placed in opposite halves of the bracket and a coin flip will determine if the third-seeded team will be bracketed with the top-seeded team or second-seeded team and the fourth-place team paired against the remaining team.
The remaining three regional championship pairings are best-of-three series. The UIL will determine the seeding when those series are completed.
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UIL Class 5A Region II Regional Final Round
The Woodlands vs. Rockwall
- Game 1: Friday 5/31 at 7:00 p.m. | UT Disch-Falk Field
- Game 2: Saturday 6/1 at 1:00 p.m. | UT Disch-Falk Field
- Game 3: following Game 2 (if needed)
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UIL Class 5A Region III Regional Final Round
Jersey Village vs. Dulles
- Single Game: Friday 5/31 at 8:00 p.m. | UH Cougar Field
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UIL Class 4A Region III Regional Final Round
Tomball vs. Foster
- Single Game: TOMBALL 10, FOSTER 0