McNeil narrowly avoided the pool of chaos that engulfed the race for the final playoff spot in District 13-6A as the Mavericks held on to beat Hendrickson 3-2 on Tuesday night to clinch the No. 3 seed.
“We beat a good team right there,” McNeil head coach Andrew Dawson said. “All the respect for (Hendrickson head coach Doug) Pierce. They just kept coming and kept coming. I’m glad we won.”
The Hawks will battle it out with Vista Ridge, Leander and Cedar Ridge in a play-in tournament on Friday and Saturday to determine the final playoff team.
Cedar Ridge meets Leander Friday at 7 p.m. at Round Rock High School, while Vista Ridge takes on Hendrickson Friday at 7 p.m. at Stony Point High School. The winners will face off Saturday at noon at McNeil for the No. 4 seed.
All the stars had to align for things to end in a four-way tie.
The loser of McNeil-Hendrickson would finish in a tie with the Lions, which had a bye on Tuesday, at 8-8 in district play. The Rangers beat district champion Round Rock 2-1 in nine innings, while the Raiders downed Westwood 11-4 to equal that district record.
The winner of the playoff will go on to face top-ranked Cy Ranch in the first round.
McNeil got a few clutch hits and solid pitching to help boost them past the Hawks.
Senior Zane Kampfer drove in a pair of runs during the Mavs’ three-run third inning. Starting pitching Cooper Anderson allowed two runs on three hits with three strikeouts in 4.1 innings, while Grayson Greinke gave up five hits and no runs with one strikeout in 2.2 innings of work.
“(Anderson) threw a lot of pitches and he hung in there and battled,” Dawson said. “Then Greinke coming in with runners at first and second with nobody out. He got a couple of outs and did a good job.”
The Hawks trimmed the lead to one run when Freddy Cavazos smacked an RBI single up the middle in the top of the fifth inning. But that’s as close as Hendrickson would get.
Hendrickson stranded 12 runners in the loss, including leaving the bases loaded in the third inning and finishing the game with men on second and third.
McNeil had a rough start to the district season, losing back-to-back one-run games against Vista Ridge followed by two losses to Round Rock by a combined score of 24-2. The mass won nine of their final 13 games.
“Hustle has been a theme around practice and games and it’s awesome to see it pay off,” Kampfer said. “We started off 0-4 and kind of re-shaped our team into a whole different team. We told ourselves, ‘Let’s hit the reset button.’”
McNeil will meet Tomball Memorial in the first round of the playoffs at a time and place yet to be determined.
“It’s incredible,” Dawson said. “These guys, man. They just continued to work and got back into it and believed in themselves and it’s just awesome. We’ll go to work and see what happens next week.”