LITTLE ELM — One of the most memorable wins in the history of Coppell baseball happened Saturday thanks to sprints from second base by Andrew Nester and Carter Fields.
Nester’s sprint brought the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh as Coppell rallied for a thrilling 3-2 win over Prosper in the third and deciding game of a Class 6A Region I quarterfinal series at The Backyard at Little Elm High School.
Nester was on second when Prosper’s catcher attempted to pick off Walker Polk at first base just after a strikeout. The throw was too high and went down the right-field line. Nester bolted and successfully traveled 180 feet, beating the relay throw to home by a fraction of a second.
“Coach [Ryan Howard)] gave me the go sign when I was 15 feet off third. I trust Coach Howard and everything he does. We had a chance to win the game, and I knew we were about to,” Nester said. “This was the best finish I’ve ever had in a game. Absolutely. I’ve played in a lot of games, but so far in my life this is the best thing.”
Coppell (27-7-1), ranked No. 2 in The Dallas Morning News’ Class 6A area poll, advanced to the regional semifinal round for the third time since 2016 and will face Southlake Carroll. It’s the second straight season Prosper (25-13) was eliminated by Coppell in the regional quarterfinal round.
Fields had a moment of similar excitement, and running redemption as well, earlier in the seventh. After leading off the inning with a walk and advancing to second on T.J. Pompey’s sacrifice bunt, he would come home on Nester’s single to center.
Fields and the throw home practically met at the same time, but after contact with the catcher, the ball rolled away. Polk was intentionally walked to set up the game-ending drama.
“As soon as it was off Andrew’s bat I wasn’t even looking. I was going home all the way,” Fields said. “I was just running full speed and dove for the plate. I looked up, saw safe and there was a sigh of relief.
“We play games like this all season, winning one-run games. We don’t blow people out. This was probably the best finish I’ve been in when it comes to a high school game. There were so many ups and downs, and so many mistakes, but we still bounced back and got the win.”
Fields regrouped after the fifth inning. Fields was on second then as well when Nester hit a similar no-out single to center, but Nester got caught in a rundown between first and second.
During the confusion of the rundown, Fields broke for home, but was thrown out. Prosper got of the jam without allowing a run, with first baseman Jason Miller grabbing a Polk line drive for the second out. Coppell also overcame three errors for the win.
Coppell took a 1-0 lead in the first when Polk doubled to right and came home on Landry Fee’s single to center. Prosper evened the game at 1-1 in the fourth when Jacob Devenny walked, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a fielding error off an infield chop by Luke Billings.
Prosper took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on a solo homer to left by Brody Boushey, Prosper’s first hit of the game.
Will Boylan had a strong relief outing to pick up the win. He scattered four hits and one walk over five innings of work, with the lone earned run being Boushey’s home run.
Lucas Davenport, who pitched five innings in a 12-1 Game 2 win on Friday, took the loss in relief, entering the game in the sixth. Prosper’s Austin Rogers pitched well in middle relief, striking out four while allowing one hit and one walk in 2 2/3 innings of work.
Southlake Carroll 8, Wolfforth Frenship 0: LSU signee Griffin Herring allowed just one hit and struck out 11 in five scoreless innings as Southlake Carroll completed a two-game sweep of its 6A Region I quarterfinal series.
Herring worked around five walks while throwing 103 pitches. Tyler White finished off the combined one-hitter with two scoreless innings of relief.
Carroll (28-8) advanced to the regional semifinals to play Coppell, the state’s sixth-ranked 6A team. Both teams were in the regional semifinals last year, and Carroll reached the regional final before losing to Keller after Keller had eliminated Coppell.
Carroll is trying to get back to the state tournament after winning back-to-back state titles in 2018 and 2019. Carroll has reached the state tournament nine times in all, including three straight years from 2017 to 2019.
Duke signee Owen Proksch was 3 for 4 with a run and an RBI for Carroll, Nick Jones was 2 for 3 with a run and an RBI and Ethan Mendoza and Cole Bedwell each had a pair of RBIs. Carroll scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth to break the game open and take a 7-0 lead, and the inning included RBI doubles by Mendoza and Tyson Drake.
Mansfield Legacy 4, Birdville 1: Dylan Schlaegel doubled, tripled, homered and had three RBIs as Mansfield Legacy won Game 3 of a best-of-3 5A Region I quarterfinal series and advanced to play Lubbock Cooper.
Kayden Voelkel pitched a four-hitter and struck out seven for Legacy. After missing Friday’s Game 2 with an injury, he returned a day later and took a shutout into the final inning before a one-out RBI double by Bynum Martinez in the top of the seventh gave Birdville (26-11-1) its only run.
Voelkel, however, did not bat Saturday. He came into the playoffs hitting .386 and leading Legacy (28-7) in hits, doubles, home runs and RBIs.
Schlaegel led off the bottom of the first with a double and scored on a single by Andrew Taylor. Schlaegel gave Legacy a 3-0 lead with a two-out, two-run triple in the second, then homered leading off the fifth.
Legacy, ranked No. 5 in the state in 5A, got three hits from JT Longino and a pair of hits from Taylor.
Argyle 6, Springtown 3: JC Davis was 2 for 2 and scored two runs and Colton Roquemore went 2 for 3 with a run and an RBI as the state’s fourth-ranked 4A team wrapped up a two-game sweep of its 4A Region I quarterfinal series.
Argyle (30-3-1) advanced to play Canyon in the regional semifinals. Argyle was a regional finalist last season and won back-to-back 4A state titles in 2018 and 2019.
Trailing 3-2, Argyle scored three runs in the bottom of the third to take the lead for good. Trevor Duck earned the win by allowing three runs in five innings, and Alex D’Angelo closed it out with two scoreless innings of relief.
Melissa 8, Kennedale 5: A six-run bottom of the fifth allowed Melissa to rally from a 5-1 deficit and sweep its 4A Region II quarterfinal series.
Coy DeFury was 3 for 4 with two runs and an RBI and Caleb Otlewski went 2 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs. Otlewski hit a two-run double in the fifth to tie it 5-5, then he stole home later in the inning to make it 7-5.
Melissa had three singles, a double, two walks and a hit batter in its big inning. That included an RBI single by DeFury, and Ayden Heinz drew a bases-loaded walk. Heinz added an RBI single in the sixth to extend the lead to 8-5.
On Twitter: @DMNGregRiddle
1/25Prosper center fielder Jacob Nelson comes up with a nice catch against Coppell during game 3 of the 6A Region I quarterfinal series played on May 21, 2022 at Little Elm High School in Little Elm. (Steve Nurenberg/Special Contributor)