ABILENE — The one stat that sticks out like a sore thumb from Argyle’s Class 4A Region I final with Stephenville: 15.
Not one, which represents the number of runs the Eagles’ offense scored over those two games. Not seven, which was the total number of hits over that same stretch — though both of those numbers are mighty painful to think about.
Fifteen was indeed the killer — the number of runners Argyle had on base and left stranded.
“You have to have a couple of hits with people on [base] just to keep the pressure on,” said Argyle coach Ricky Griffin, whose team lost Thursday’s do-or-die Game 2, 6-1. “If we get a lead, then the pressure goes immediately to them.
“We were never able to put the pressure on them.”
The numbers were certainly frustrating. After leaving eight runners stranded in a series-opening 2-0 loss on Wednesday — including leaving the bases loaded twice — the Eagles stranded seven on Thursday as the series shifted from nearby Celina to nearly 200 miles away at Abilene Christian University.
For the series, the Eagles left the bases loaded three times and hit into two double plays.
They only had three hits Thursday, uncharacteristic for a team that had outscored its previous four playoff opponents 79-3.
Their best chance to score in Thursday’s Game 2 came in the top of the third when they loaded the bases on a hit-by-pitch, single by JC Davis and walk to Lucas Anderson. All of that came with two outs and brought Chase Wohnoutka to the plate. Stephenville pitcher Reece Elston wiggled out of the jam by inducing an inning-ending ground out.
Down 6-0 going into the seventh, the Eagles loaded the bases but only mustered one run.
As a result, Stephenville, which is not known for making deep playoff runs, was always a step ahead against a program that was looking for its fourth state title after winning it all in 2015, 2018 and 2019.
“They are not a team that usually goes deep in the playoffs, so that type of pressure [early] would have been unusual to them,” Griffin said of Stephenville. “Instead, they did a good job of staying on top all the time, so the pressure was always on us. There was a double play where the hit went right at the pitcher’s head, and he catches it. You see that type of play every two years, and we had one in each of the two games. We hit some balls hard, and they just made the plays.”