After making the playoffs his first three years of high school, Paradise center fielder Andrew Sims didn’t want to be part of the senior class that ended the streak.
In the fourth inning Monday, Sims doubled to center field to start the five-run rally that put the Panthers on the way to clinching third place and a playoff berth out of District 10-2A. Paradise wrapped up the postseason bid with a 6-2 victory over the rival Boyd Yellowjackets.
“For us seniors, it’s four years in a row to make the playoffs,” said Sims, who went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs. “It’s tradition. We wanted to keep it going.
“Everyone showed what we have to do to get to the next level.”
Paradise (16-8) moved to 9-4 in district and will close out the regular season Friday against second-place Godley.
Paradise coach Scott Broussard praised his team for overcoming the season-ending injury to ace pitcher Kale Johnson, and the loss of several older players who left the squad, to earn a trip back to the postseason.
“I’m proud of them with the circumstances that they’ve gone through,” Broussard said. “We had kids that hung it up, and then we lost a senior leader like Kale.
“But it’s back to my favorite saying, ‘some break when there’s adversity and others break records.’ These kids seem to believe no matter what, they can get it done.”
But after taking a 6-2 lead in the sixth, the Panthers allowed Boyd to get the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning. The Yellowjackets used a dropped third strike, walk and a hit batsman from Paradise senior closer Connor Berry to load the bases with one out.
Berry got out of the jam with a grounder back to the mound by Sal Spinelli to start a game-ending 1-2-3 double-play.
With the loss, Boyd (8-12, 6-7) was eliminated from the playoff race. The Yellowjackets needed wins in their final two games and a Paradise loss Friday to force a tiebreaker for third place.
Boyd scored a run in the first inning with a hit batsman and a RBI-groundout by Jared Cate. The Yellowjackets took a 2-0 lead in the third with Audie Greenwood earning a two-out walk and Chasen Starnes driving him home with a single to left field.
Boyd pitcher Kirby Yale took that lead into the bottom of the fourth when Sims led off with a double to right field. The Boyd defense then helped Paradise with three errors around three more hits to increase the lead to five runs.
“The fourth inning killed us,” said Boyd coach Dwayne Gardner. “We had three errors in that inning. We should’ve been out of it with a 2-0 or 2-1 lead.
“After that, we got down in the dugout.”
Skylar Black drove in one of his two RBIs in the frame. He finished 2-for-2 and scored a run.
Yale threw all six innings for Boyd, allowing six runs – four earned – on seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
Pitching with the lead after the fourth inning, Paradise starter Dillon Meadows retired six straight before handing the ball to Berry for the seventh.
Meadows gave up two runs on one hit and struck out five, walked two and hit a batter.
“Dillon threw the ball well,” Broussard said. “He struggled early, hitting a batter and giving up a walk. But he started working ahead and came on strong at the end.”