Argyle coach Ricky Griffin was quick to admit the Eagles’ walk-off win over Graham in Game 1 of last weekend’s Class 4A area-round playoff series served as a wake-up call for his team.
Argyle (33-1-1) bounced back from the one-run win to dominate the Steers 15-0 in Game 2, securing a spot in the regional quarterfinals, where it will meet Brownwood (16-10) in a best-of-three series at Glen Rose.
Game 1 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Game 2 will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Game 3, if needed, will be at noon Saturday.
In the days leading up to the series against Brownwood, Griffin talked to the Eagles about elevating their play to where it was during a challenging nondistrict schedule. That will be the focus Thursday as Argyle looks to extend its postseason winning streak to 15 games.
“We have to go and play with the focus we had against [Dallas] Jesuit, Southlake Carroll and Coppell — we didn’t have any problem with those guys getting our attention,” Griffin said. “It’s about time in the playoffs where we need to make sure we have a healthy respect for each team we play. We need to be coming in firing on all cylinders like we were earlier in the season.”
The Eagles’ early schedule featured several of the top Class 5A and Class 6A programs. Argyle recorded wins over Prosper, Rockwall, Edinburg Vela and Cleburne, all of which are still alive in the playoffs, while suffering its only loss of the year to Carroll, another team still competing in the 6A playoffs.
Iowa Park, which Argyle beat 9-2, and Decatur, which the Eagles swept in District 8-4A play, are still alive in the 4A playoffs as well.
Brownwood doesn’t have near the resume Argyle has, but Griffin said its pitching staff has had success with off-speed pitches and breaking balls — things that have given the Eagles trouble over the last few weeks. The Lions, who won District 7-4A, have allowed just three runs in four playoff wins over Springtown and Midland Greenwood.
“They’re not going to have a pitcher that can throw the ball by us, but they’ll have two pitchers who throw a lot of off-speed stuff,” Griffin said. “That’s something we haven’t really flourished on. We’ve prepared them all week for it, and hopefully we can do a better job of hitting the ball.”
Argyle’s pitching staff, on the other hand, continues to excel from top to bottom. The Eagles have allowed 1.14 runs per game against 4A competition this year and haven’t allowed more than three runs in any of their 14 games against 4A opponents.
Utah signee Sean Bolin had seven strikeouts while allowing one hit in five shutout innings in Game 2 against Graham, while Texas-San Antonio signee Chad Ricker gave up one unearned run and needed just 83 pitches to get through seven innings in Game 1.
Tate Van Poppel (four innings, three hits, one run) and Dillon Carter (three hitless innings) also have been efficient in the postseason for the defending state champions.
With a pair of wins against Brownwood, Argyle — No. 1 in Class 4A and No. 2 in the USA Today Super 25 Expert Rankings — would advance to the region semifinals to play Pampa or Canyon.
“I told a couple of our seniors that it’s time to take this team and move forward,” Griffin said. “We need to play to our talent from here on out and start making some statements. All of the rankings are fine, but this is a team that has all but one starter back from last year’s team that rolled through this thing. I think it’s time to turn it on and show this is the same team, just with bigger and stronger athletes.”