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17-5A baseball squads serve notice in UIL playoffs with strong showings

Cypress Ranch head coach John Pope led his Mustangs to a 5-3 win over 17-5A rival Cy-Fair in the opener of a three-game playoff series on Thursday.
Cypress Ranch head coach John Pope led his Mustangs to a 5-3 win over 17-5A rival Cy-Fair in the opener of a three-game playoff series on Thursday.
Cypress Ranch High School/CFISD

The Cy-Fair ISD has been a baseball hotbed for years. With a large pool of kids that play in a strong youth baseball feeder system supplied by the Cy-Fair Sports Association, the high schools in the sprawling district in the northwest part of Harris County usually get the benefit of some very good players.

As a result, the district has produced some very competitive league races and deep regional playoff runs, as well as three state finalists – and two champions – over the years. And the list of individual talent that has gone on to play well past the high school level and even into Major League Baseball is long.

So it isn’t too much of a surprise to note that no UIL Class 5A baseball district in the Houston area can boast more remaining playoff teams this season than District 17-5A, where the CFISD teams reside.

Cy-Fair, Cypress Ranch and Langham Creek all remain alive in the third playoff round this week. And Cypress Creek, the lone district qualifier that has been ousted from the Region III-5A bracket, made it to the second round before falling to Katy Taylor last weekend.

But the number will definitely dwindle this week, at least by one. Cypress Ranch and Cy-Fair, a matchup that features two past state champions, are paired against each other in a best-of-three 5A Region III regional quarterfinal round series.

Meanwhile, the Lobos of Langham are attempting to avenge Cy Creek as they face off against the Taylor Mustangs over the weekend.

On Thursday night, Langham and Cy Ranch got off to good starts in those respective series.

The Cypress Ranch Mustangs jumped out to an early lead and then held off the late charge of the Cy-Fair Bobcats to capture a 5-3 win in the opening game of their series at Cypress Woods High School.

Paced by Dalton Stark and Carey Jones, who each had a pair of hits, the Mustangs built a 5-0 lead through the first three innings. Jones, who finished 2-for-3 at the plate, had an RBI single in the first inning and added a run-scoring double in the third.

Starting pitcher Corbin Martin, who worked six innings and allowed just three hits to the Bobcat lineup, breezed through the first three inning before allowing a run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

In the sixth inning, Martin began to show some effects of fatigue. With two out and one on, he allowed a walk and hit a batter to load the bases.

An error on second baseman Luke Watson then brought home two runs to cut Cy-Fair’s deficit to 5-3.

But Weston Brown came in to pitch the seventh for Cy Ranch and struck out a pair of hitters to secure the Game 1 win.

That series continues Friday night at Cy Woods.

At the same time, Langham Creek fell behind early in their first game against Katy Taylor, but came alive in the middle innings to erase a 3-0 deficit and claim a 10-4 win to take a 1-0 lead in that best-of-three set.

The Lobos scored a single run in the third inning before sending 11 batters to the plate in their six-run fourth inning rally that broke open the game. Kyle Finkelstaedt scored a run and drove in two runs in the frame, as Langham vaulted out to a 7-3 lead.

Aaron Fletcher’s three-run homer in the fifth rounded out the scoring for the Lobos. Eric Thomas, the Lobo starter, was the beneficiary of all of the run support. The senior lefthander threw a complete game, allowing three earned runs on five hits and three walks. He struck out six Mustang batters on the way to the victory.

The defeat marked the first loss in the 2014 playoffs for Taylor. The Mustangs had swept Bellaire and Cypress Creek in the first two rounds.

The Langham Creek-Katy Taylor series will move to Cerny Field at Taylor High School for Friday’s game with the Lobos looking to close out the series sweep.

The CFISD teams made their playoff presence felt again on Thursday.

Cy-Fair or Cy Ranch will definitely ensure a 17-5A presence in the next round. Langham Creek is hoping to make that presence doubly strong with another win. And if the school district’s athletic administration had its way, there would be an all CFISD regional final in a couple of weeks.

Thursday night’s results helped stoke those hopes just a little more.

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