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Prep Baseball: Pleasant Grove knocked out of postseason after 7-1 loss to Celina

by Bill Owney, Texarkana Gazette | May 25, 2023 at 10:16 p.m.

WINNSBORO, Texas -- In the end, youth was not served.

Celina's senior-dominated lineup overpowered a battling but young Pleasant Grove squad, 7-1, to claim a Texas Class 4A regional semifinal win Friday night in Winnsboro.

The win, combined with No. 2 Celina's 5-3 win a night earlier, sends to Bobcats (35-4) into the round of 8 and ends Pleasant Grove's season at 29-7-1.

"We're just so proud of these kids. We just ran out of time," said PG coach Riley Fincher. "These guys have given so much to one another. There's so much pride in being a Pleasant Grove baseball player and so much pride in the community in this team.

"There's so much support for this team," he added. "It's a special place to play, a special place to coach."

Celina senior starter RJ Ruais, a Baylor commit, was dominant while his team built a 7-0 lead in the first three innings. He carried a no-hitter into the fourth and lasted until the fifth, when PG's offense began to fire.

Celina got on the board first when Sean Rabe beat out a slow roller to third. He moved to second on a passed ball and to third and home on sacrifice flies by Rauis and Noah Bentley.

Pleasant Grove sophomore Jarret Halter, a sophomore, tried to keep the Hawks in the game with a variety of pitches, all either in or near the strike zone. Though he located the ball well, Celina's senior-dominated lineup continuously put the ball in play.

Still, Halter surrendered but two hits while striking out four in the first two innings, stranding two runners in the first and another in the second.

The wheels started to come off in the third, when Celina hammered out six hits, five consecutively, stole five bases and benefited from a hit batsman, wild pitch, passed ball and balk to notch six runs. The biggest blow came when the No. 8 hitter, first baseman. Kingston Hangartner, hit a high fly that just got over the right-field fence with one on.

Buck Anderson broke up Rauis' no-hitter with a sharp single to right in the bottom of the fourth. The big lefty responded by striking out the next two hitters.

He ran out of steam in the fifth after a catcher-interference call put leadoff hitter on firs t and Brenton Clark reached on an error by the third baseman. Clark was erased on a fielder's choice that put Halter on first.

JM Long's ground out brought home Elrod with PG's lone run of the game. Ruais walked one and hit another to load the bases and prompt Celina coach Troy McCartney to ask for the ball. Reliever Jackson Rooker struck out three of the four batters he faced to close out the game.


Game 1

Celina 5, Pleasant Grove 3

Celina, the second-ranked team in the state, came from behind to defeat Pleasant Grove, 5-3, in Game 1 of the regional semifinals series.

Celina scored all of its runs in the last four innings, turning around Pleasant Grove's strong start.

Pleasant Grove took an early lead in the first inning when JM Long hit a three-run home run, bringing Brenton Clark and Jarret Halter home. However, Celina managed to reduce the deficit by scoring two runs in the fourth inning and took the lead in the fifth with two more runs, making it 4-3. Celina added another run in the seventh for insurance.

In the Hawks' loss, Brenton Clark, Halter, Long, Hunter Rose, and Jace Eldrod all recorded hits.

Rose started on the mound, pitching seven innings, striking out six, walking two, and allowing five runs -- four earned -- on nine hits.


(Sports Director Jason Hopkins contributed to this report with the Game 1 coverage)

Print Headline: Pleasant Grove knocked out of playoff contention


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