It was a tough day at the plate up to that point for Magnolia catcher Bo Willis.
The junior popped out on a big opportunity in the sixth inning with the Bulldogs trailing.
But Willis got one last chance.
With two outs in the seventh inning and down a run, he didn't miss.
With two runners on, the Texas Tech commit turned on a fastball offering and put it over the fence in left field for a walk-off homer.
The Bulldogs moved on to the area round for the first time in two years on a 5-3 victory over Elgin for the Region III-5A bi-district series sweep.
"I really don't know what to say," a relieved Magnolia coach Taylor Shiflett said afterwards.
Magnolia (24-6), ranked No. 3 in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association poll, advances to play Lindale in the area round this coming week. For Elgin (14-11), the season ends after making the playoffs for just the third time since 2009.
The Bulldogs, district champions of 20-5A, were down to their final out when Adam Kloffenstein stepped to the plate with a one-run deficit. The TCU signee walked and Preston Hoffart got grazed on the helmet to get aboard as well.
That would do it for Elgin starting pitcher Jacob Harkins as Cade Watson started warming up.
Willis was in the on-deck circle on an 0-for-3 day when a couple teammates gathered with him.
The entire series didn't rest on Willis' shoulders as Game 3 would have followed if needed. But his teammates made sure he was at ease for this particular at-bat.
"It was crazy," Willis said. "All the guys were talking to me. They were making me smile and making me laugh. You can't ask for better teammates than that."
On the third pitch, Willis blasted off for just his third home run of the season. His first two came prior to district play.
He was due.
"(Bo) was struggling a little bit today with runners in scoring position," Shiflett said. "At any point in time, he can do that. He was trying to get mental focus ready with two outs and not put too much pressure on himself."
Willis made solid contact on the 2-0 offering.
"It was a fastball," he said. "That's all I remember. Don't even know if it was low, out, up, behind me or anything. But I just saw it coming and just tried to put the bat on the ball. I didn't try to do too much. I just wanted to put it in the outfield because that's what we needed to tie the game."
Magnolia was trying to avoid the disappointment of last year when it was upset on the same Saturday and the same location in a loss to Cedar Park. Elgin provided a tough challenge as it took Magnolia's last at-bat on Friday in Game 1 for a 6-4 win. Kloffenstein provided the game-winning two-run single in the top of the seventh.
"They knew they had to come out and play baseball," Shiflett said. "It was a good team effort. We even cleared the bench a little bit."
Magnolia took an early lead in the first inning as Jordan Groshans doubled and was knocked home three batters later by a similar double by Hoffart.
Elgin took the lead in the third inning as Isaac Davilla had an RBI double followed by an RBI single by Jonathan Gonzales.
That score stood until the top of the fifth when Jace Grady made it 3-1 on a sacrifice fly.
Besides the three runs given up, Magnolia senior starting pitcher Quinton Carpenter was steady.
The righty totaled 10 strikeouts in six innings.
Pitching from behind was a stressful task for Carpenter.
"It was frustrating," Carpenter said. "I know I have one of the best offenses in 5A baseball. I knew eventually and I had faith they would come through."
Elgin put two runners aboard with two outs in the top of the seventh when Brentsen Meyers was brought on. It took Meyers one pitch to force the Wildcats into a fielder's choice.
"He competed well," Shiflett said of Carpenter's performance. "He kept them offspeed with his change-up and his breaking stuff. That's a good hitting team. They hit Adam (Kloffenstein) yesterday. They put the ball in play and they don't give up at-bats."
At that point in the game, Magnolia had pulled within a run as pinch-hitter Connor Taylor drew a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the sixth.
Getting past the bi-district round was a big mental hurdle for the Bulldogs after falling last year.
"I think the first round is the hardest sometimes to get the pressure off," Shiflett said. "Hopefully we can relax a little bit and play really good baseball."
Magnolia enters the area round winners of 20 of its last 23 games.
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