SALADO, Texas — As Whitney entered the seventh inning trailing Franklin 8-3, they were not rattled.
They had been there before.
Just one week after overcoming a four-run sixth inning deficit to beat Academy in Game Three of the Area Round, the Wildcats hoped they could duplicate their last-minute magic in Game Three of the Regional Quarterfinals.
However, their late-inning rally came up just short as Franklin held on to end the Wildcats season 8-6.
Certainly not how @WildcatWhitney saw the season ending, but it was still one to remember. Back-to-back Regional QF appearances for the first time.— Jack Allen (@JackAllenKXXV) May 22, 2022
As for @FranklinLionBSB, they are the only CenTex/BV team with both baseball and softball teams still in the hunt. #txhsbaseball pic.twitter.com/6Wes57St6l
Whitney scored first, putting up two runs in the top of the third inning. Brendon Aguirre led off the inning with a double to right field. He later scored on an errant pickoff throw to first base. The Wildcats extended their lead on an RBI single by Garrett Peacock which score Jaxon Montgomery from second base.
Franklin would finally break through in the fifth inning, scoring three runs to take a 3-2 lead. Whitney answered with a run in the top of the sixth to tie the game at three.
Then, the Lions found their grove.
Bo Jimenez drove in Dylan Rhoden with a squeeze bunt. Then, Josh Atomanczyk broke the game open with a three-run triple that carried over the right fielder's head. He scored to give Franklin an 8-3 lead.
Whitney was not ready to give in.
The Wildcats loaded the bases, allowing Jared Ivers to drive in Montgomery on a fielder's choice. Then Kaden Auten hit an RBI double, driving in Cade Baker. Kannon Watson singled to score Auten, bringing the tying run to the plate with two outs.
However, Aguirre could not convert. He hit a sharp line drive directly at first baseman __ who gloved the final out to end the game 8-6.
The loss ends Whitney's playoff run in the Regional Quarterfinals for the second straight year. This was the first time the Wildcats had ever made it to the third round in two consecutive seasons.
Meanwhile, the Lions advance to the Regional Semifinals where they will play Central Heights.
Franklin is the only program in Central Texas or the Brazos Valley whose baseball and softball teams are still competing for a state title.