Magnolia clinched its first outright district championship since 2009 with a 2-1 defeat of District 20-5A foe Tomball Memorial on Friday.
In addition to clinching the district title, Friday's win also avenged the lone loss the Bulldogs (21-5, 11-1) had in district play – a 6-5 loss to the Wildcats (18-8, 7-5) in eight innings back on March 27.
"It's special with these kids," Magnolia coach Taylor Shiflett said of the district title. "It's a great group of guys and they deserve everything that they get because they work hard. I've got 18 seniors, so it's really special for those kids to be able to enjoy that."
With the district title – and with it, the No. 1 playoff seed – out of the way with a pair of games still to be played in 20-5A next week, Shiflett plans on shaking up the lineup a bit to prepare for the playoffs.
"It takes the pressure off right now," he said. "It allows us to get kids in that haven't been in over the next two games to see what they can do to help us out in the playoffs. It takes a lot of the load off wrapping it up early with two games."
From first pitch to final out, the Bulldogs and Wildcats played for just 84 minutes Friday in a pitcher's duel.
Magnolia starter Quinton Carpenter tossed a complete game. He allowed two hits, walked three and struck out four in front of solid defensive play.
"I knew coming in here that we had a great defense and a great offense," Carpenter said. "I wasn't worried about the strikeouts. That's a hot-hitting team right now. They're on a hot streak. I wanted to go out there and throw strikes. [Strikeouts] were not a big part of it – it was not my plan at all. I just went out there and did what I needed to do."
For Tomball Memorial, Justin Ruble pitched a 6-inning complete game. He allowed five hits and struck out five. Both pitchers had solid command and movement on pitches all night.
"Everyone was coming in saying [Ruble] had nasty stuff," Carpenter said. "He's a high-80s guy with a sharp curveball. He pitched a hell of a game. It was just unlucky for him and some timely hits for us. Sad to say, but that's how you win some games."
In the first two innings, the two teams combined for just three baserunners and none got past first base.
The first run came across in the bottom of the third. Adam Nguyen led off with a single to left for the Bulldogs. He stole second and got to third on a passed ball before Jordan Groshan's single to left plated him.
The Wildcats got the run back in the top of the fourth. Trenton Chinn singled to lead off and later came home on Alex Quarfordt's groundout.
Nguyen, the No. 8 hitter for Magnolia, came through in bottom of the sixth with what became the game-winning RBI. Cody Wagner led off the half inning with a double down the left field line. Two batters later, Nguyen grounded a single to the same spot that scored Wagner.
"I've just got to thank my guys up in the lineup there," Nguyen said. "Cody leading off the inning and giving me the opportunity to drive him in – that's some big at-bats there."
The Bulldogs play a pair of district games next week – at Willis on Tuesday and home against Brenham on Friday to close out the regular season.
With the district title and top playoff seed locked up, Magnolia c... Click here to read full article