TYLER, Texas — Gunter held Atlanta to just three hits as it rolled past the Rabbs, 11-1, in Game 1 of the Region II-3A, best-of-three championship series on Wednesday at Mike Carter Field in Tyler.
The Rabbs loaded the bases at three different times in the game and, all three times, the Tigers got out of each jam without giving up a run.
"Sometimes, emotions play a part in how the game is played out," Atlanta head coach David Hooten said. "We made some mistakes early on, and, emotionally, we kinda got out of it. We had a chance to get back in the game but didn't do good in situational hitting. We had the bases loaded three different times and did not get anything out of it. We have to fix that. I would take these kids over any other team.
"The team has responded well all year long. I expect them to play well tomorrow and get Game 2. I feel like if we can get Game 2, we will get momentum back on our side. We got into their bullpen tonight and that was good. It's disappointing. We lost the battle tonight, but we are going to look to win the war."
Atlanta starting pitcher Kelby Smith absorbed the loss, tossed six innings, gave up 10 runs on nine hits, struck out seven and walked one.
Issac Villanueva, the Tigers' starting pitcher, earned the win, threw two innings, walked five, gave up a run and struck out five.
The Tigers put up six runs in the sixth on a triple, a double, a Rabbs' error and two free passes. The runs stretched the Gunter advantage to a 9-run lead, 10-1. The Tigers put up an insurance run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly RBI to make it 11-1.
Gunter jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first on a single, a double and two Atlanta errors. The errors led directly to the two runs.
Jackson Warren landed on first after a Tiger throwing error, and Smith walked to put two on with an out in the first for the Rabbs. Villanueva got out of the jam by striking out the next two batters.
Atlanta's Warren drew a walk with the bases loaded for the Rabbs' first run of the game. Gunter clung to a 4-1 edge.
Ty Graf had Atlanta's first hit of the game, a single to right field in the fifth frame. The Rabbs had the bases juiced with an out, but the Tigers got out of the inning with a double play. Graf ended the night as the Rabbs' top batter as he was 2 for 3 with a pair of singles.
Atlanta's Kale Carpenter had the second Rabbs' hit of the game with a Texas Leaguer single to right center in the sixth inning.
Warren struck out in the seventh but reached bases after a passed ball and stole second for Atlanta. Smith walked, and Graf singled to left-center to juice the bases. Gunter relief pitcher Landon Pelfrey struck out the next two batters and induced a flyout to end the game.
Game 2 is set for 6 p.m. today at Nevada Community High School, and Game 3, if needed, will be played at 6 p.m. on Friday back at Nevada Community.