High School Baseball: Chester's home run, Mitchell's pitching lead Sinton past Calallen
LAREDO — Canon Chester's first three at-bats were all outs.
Chester had a ground out, fly out and hit into a double play. But his fourth plate appearance in the eighth inning sent Sinton back to the state tournament.
The Pirates outfielder and designated hitter took an outside offering from Calallen left-handed reliever Roberto Perez over the right-field fence for an opposite field home run that gave Sinton a 2-1 eighth-inning win against the Wildcats at Veterans Field.
In a game that featured stellar defensive plays, lights out pitching and opportunistic offense, the Pirates (33-4) won a battle of heavyweights to earn its first trip to the state tournament since 2017.
Calallen finished its season at 29-4-1 after making the regional final for the first time since 2015.
"I did ... I knew it was out," Chester, an Alabama commit, said after the game on his home run. "They had been working me outside pitches for all the at-bats today, you know I was just sitting outside pitch and I got it. I went with it and I knew it was out off the bat. It was a great feeling, I knew it."
Prior to Chester's home run, Calallen left-handed ace Justin Lamkin and Pirates right-hander Blake Mitchell staged a classic pitcher's duel with neither giving up much.
Calallen's lone run came in the third inning when Ernest Valverde's RBI single drove in Luke Smith. After that hit, though, Mitchell gave up two hits the rest of the game before he left with one out in the eighth.
Sinton tied the game in the sixth when Smith could not handle a Mitchell ground ball to score Rylan Galvan. Galvan tripled to start the inning.
The Wildcats had runners in scoring position in the sixth and eighth innings, and also had a runner picked off in the seventh, ending potential scoring threats.
Lamkin's day ended in the seventh because he ran out of pitches as he struck out 11, giving up one unearned run on five hits. He worked out of a two-on jam in the second and then a bases loaded jam in the seventh before leaving the game and Perez, Calallen's other left-handed starter, took over.
"It was a well-pitched game on both sides," Calallen coach Steve Chapman said. "They got a hit when they needed it, and we couldn't get one when we needed it. We got one in the third, and after that we had opportunities and we didn't capitalize on them."
Mitchell, meanwhile, worked into the eighth inning stifling Wildcats' hitters. He also had two key defensive plays in the seventh when one forced out the lead runner at second on a bunt, and another was a pickoff for the second out.
Mitchell finished the game giving up the one run on five hits with eight strikeouts and two walks in another big start for the sophomore during the playoffs.
"It was just getting ahead early in the count, staying within myself and doing my thing," said Mitchell, a sophomore who is an LSU commit. "It means a lot that we can go out there and compete with any team in Texas. We are going to do the same thing next week."
HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
CLASS 4A REGIONAL FINAL
SINTON 2, CALALLEN 1
What this game means: The Pirates advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2017, and the second time in head coach Adrian Alaniz's tenure leading the program. Calallen finishes its deepest playoff run since 2015 with a 29-4-1 record.
Saturday's highlights: Pitching dominated the day as Calallen left-handed ace Justin Lamkin and Sinton sophomore right-hander Blake Mitchell kept hitters off-balance throughout the game. Calallen broke the ice with the first run of the game, they only of the game, when Ernest Valverde singled in Luke Smith in the third inning. Sinton tied it in the sixth when Rylan Galvan scored on an error. Two innings later, Canon Chester hit a one-out opposite field home run to left field off Calallen relieiver Roberto Perez to produce the winning margin.
Saturday's stars: Sinton's Marco Gonzales and Jacquae Stewart each had two hits for the Pirates. Rene Galvan, Rylan Galvan and Chester each had a hit. Mitchell finished the night pitching 7.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Braeden Brown earned the save, pitching the final two outs of the game. Calallen's Colton McCreary was 2 for 4 on the day, including a double in the eighth inning. Valverde, Aleks Salinas and pinch-hitter Tres Vasquez also had hits. Lamkin had 11 strikeouts in seven innings, along with one run on five hits with one walk.
Next: Sinton will play in a Class 4A state semifinal at 1 p.m. or 4 p.m. at Disch Falk Field in Austin on June 10.