Bowie designated hitter Matt Phillips doesn’t remember much about his final at-bat during Wednesday’s 4A South Region semifinal contest against visiting High Point, including where the ball was pitch or what kind of pitch was thrown by Eagles starter Leandro Guzman.
But he probably won’t soon forget the result of his fourth at-bat of the game and that was a two-run single that turned what looked like a disappointing loss into a thrilling 3-2 victory and a spot in Friday’s regional final.
“I just prayed and I thought I had to hit the ball,” said Phillips, who struck out in his first two at-bats against Guzman. “That’s all I could think about. My team played a great game and I didn’t want our season to be over because I know we have more in us, so I stayed up there and swung my bat and did the best I could.”
With the count even at two balls, two strikes, Guzman fired a fastball that cruised along the outside corner of the plate. Before it reached the catcher’s mitt, Phillips reached out and slapped a lazy fly ball to shallow right center field with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the seventh and the Eagles leading 2-1.
The ball eventually landed in the outfield grass between defenders to score Bennett Garner and Matt Bieler’s courtesy runner, Jake Wersick, for the come-from-behind win. Garner, Bieler and Brady Mazzie sandwiched a trio of walks around a strikeout by Brady Barr to set up Phillips’ heroics.
“When it was in the air, I couldn’t even think,” Phillips said. “It was up there for a while; I was just praying it was going to fall and it fell. That’s all I could hope for.”
The dramatic ending finished what was a stellar defensive effort that saw Bowie open up a 1-0 lead in the first on a double by Bieler to right center field. High Point tied the score in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Delgi Holguin, who then gave the Eagles a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh on a run-scoring single that scored Jack Cheney.
“It was a great game,” said High Point coach Joe Quirk, whose pitcher -- Guzman -- struck out 10, walked six and allowed six hits on 121 pitches. “It’s just the way the ball goes … but it does leave a sour taste in your mouth. Leandro pitched amazing. I couldn’t ask any more from him.”
Bowie 3, High Point 2
High Point (16-5) 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 -- 2 8 1
Bowie (21-2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 -- 3 6 1
WP -- Dylan Crossed. LP -- Leandro Guzman. 2B: High Point -- Jhon Palen, Leandro Guzman; Bowie -- Matt Bieler, Kyle Carter. RBI: High Point -- Delgi Holguin 2; Bowie -- Matt Phillips 2, Matt Bieler.