Longview vs. Hallsville

Longview head baseball coach Jim Goldman watches the action during last week’s regional quarterfinal series against Hallsville.

Longview has proved a lot of people wrong in the first three rounds of the high school baseball playoffs, and is showing no signs of slowing down as it prepares for its first regional semifinal in program history.

The 21-16 Lobos will launch this week’s best-of-three Class 5A Region II semifinal series against 24-13 Frisco Reedy during Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. game one at home, and continue the fourth-round playoff matchup during Saturday’s 2 p.m. game two at Frisco Reedy’s ballpark.

If a game three is needed, it will take place right after at the same site.

“The kids are excited,” said Longview head baseball coach Jim Goldman. “We’ve had a good week of practice. We’re trying to hit against some high velocity. And then, [Wednesday was] a feel good, swing the bat, and compete day. [Thursday] night can’t get here quick enough. We’re looking forward to it.”

Longview suffered losses in five of its final six regular season games and finished fourth in the final District 15-5A standings, but it has leaned on the performances of players up and down the roster to bounce back, make the most of its current postseason appearance, and earn its best playoff run since the 1954 season.

The pack’s lineup has been boosted by Jordan Allen’s .400 batting average, 46 hits, 28 RBIs, 23 runs, 17 doubles, nine stolen bases, one triple, and one home run throughout the year, and Ronald Woods has contributed a .368 batting average, 43 hits, 35 runs, 21 stolen bases, 17 RBIs, seven doubles, one triple, and one home run. Taylor Tatum has shined with a .361 batting average, 39 hits, 30 runs, 22 stolen bases, 19 RBIs, 10 doubles, and two triples, and Andrew Tutt has followed with .324 batting average, 33 hits, 18 runs, 11 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, and five doubles.

The Lobos’ pitching staff, meanwhile, has been guided by Cole Ramey (6-3 record, 2.33 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 63.2 innings), Kieffer Doxey (5-5 record, 3.27 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 64.2 innings), Campbell Williams (4-3 record, 1.87 ERA, 45 strikeouts and four saves in 41.1 innings) and Brett Gordy (3-2 record, 2.74 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 23 innings).

“A couple things stood out Saturday,” Goldman said of his team’s most recent appearance. “Kieffer Doxey swung the bat and he pitched excellent. Ronald [Woods] is swinging the hottest bat throughout the playoffs. Jose Arellano when we were down a run, he hits the triple down the right field line and scored the tying run. He had a two-hit game at the biggest time. Jacolbie [Granville also] scored both winning runs in the Hallsville series.”

“The pitching has been really good for us,” he added. “Of course, Brett Gordy, Cole Ramey and Campbell Williams stepping up. When you’re going three games [in a playoff series], you’re going to use everybody. The other thing that’s been huge is we’ve had a ton of outfield assists.”

The Lobos have faced multiple postseason tests as a lower seed, and their confidence has grown every time it has topped the competition. That was evident in the upset playoff series wins against 16-5A champ Porter, District 14-5A three-seed Corsicana, and District 15-5A champ Hallsville because they earned victories against star pitchers like Porter’s Zane Adams and Hallsville’s Landon Bowden.

“Those guys are all really good,” Goldman said of the talent that his team has already faced this postseason. “It’s a good feeling when you know your players believe. It doesn’t matter who’s standing in front of them. They’re going to find a way to win.”

Longview recognizes what has worked for them during its 6-2 start to the 2023 postseason, and has leaned on a similar schedule to continue its success against District 9-5A three-seed Frisco Reedy this week.

Reedy, which missed the playoffs a year ago, swept its first two playoff series this season and won two of three last week. The Lions rolled past Frisco Independence (11-1, 4-1) and Dallas Wilson (8-1, 4-2), and won the opening game last week against Frisco Liberty (16-3) before falling 8-1 and bouncing back to claim the series with a 10-0 win.

“They’re going to be really good,” Goldman said of his program’s opponent this week. “They’re big, athletic kids. [They have] good left-handed hitters. They’ve got three really good pitchers.”

“We gotta stay focused and hungry,” he added. “We’re doing the exact same practices as how we prepared for Porter. “I [also] like the Thursday and Saturday [playoff series format] with the off day in between where we can practice. I love having the first game at home. We hope to have a really good showing and be up one game when we go to Frisco on Saturday.”

The winner of this series will take on either Whitehouse or Frisco Wakeland next week in the regional finals.

Follow Thomas Bingham on Twitter: @Texan8thGen