In 2017, Neville defeated Tioga 15-1 to win the Class 4A State Championship. In a semifinal showdown between the two schools four years later, Tioga gave the Tigers a taste of their own medicine in an 8-2 Indian victory.
A rough start on the mound compiled with stranded base runners didn’t do the Tigers in any favors against the No. 1 seed in 4A. The Tigers were limited to just five hits in the loss against the top-seeded Indians Thursday at McMurry Park in Sulphur.
The No. 4 Neville Tigers fell to No. 1 Tioga for the third time this season, but this time a state championship berth was on the line.
"That's a good group," Neville head coach Paul Guerriero said. "They have two really good pitchers and good relief guys too. They do the solid things that you need to do to compete for a championship, and I expect them to."
Neville’s Wes Robinson had a bumpy first inning, as Terrance Grines led off the inning for Tioga with a single and David Roper walked. A passed ball put runners on second and third with no outs. Blake McGehee put an RBI groundout into play to give Tioga the first run of the ballgame. Ethan Looney’s RBI bunt single that followed scored another run in the first inning.
Brayden Terra and Henton Roberts walked with one out in the second inning, but McGehee struck out the next batter and got a fly out to end the inning and keep the Tigers off the board.
Things went sideways for Neville in the second inning. Robinson walked three straight batters to load the bases with one out. After walking in a run, Neville decided to make the switch to Brody Green with the bases still juiced. Green gave up an RBI single to McGehee and a 2-RBI single to Logan Lafoon before ultimately getting out of the inning.
"We walked nine guys in the first four innings, and that just didn't give us much of a shot," Guerriero said. "That's something we've been strong at is pitching. We felt pitching-wise we were a good matchup for their offense. It took us out of our game a lot offensively, and we just had to play stationary baseball and that makes it tough."
Down 6-0, Daniel Breard recorded the first hit of the game for Neville in the third inning, but the Tigers stranded two more runners in the inning.
"We've struggled with (leaving too many men on) the last few games," Guerriero said. "We just couldn't come away with the hits when we had to have them."
Lafoon’s sacrifice fly followed by a throwing error tacked on two more runs for the Indians in the fourth.
The Tigers scratched their first run across in the fifth inning when Brennan Surles and Zeb Ruddell singled to put runners on the corner. Breard knocked in Surles for the third consecutive hit of the inning. A wild pitch allowed the Tigers to pick up another run in the sixth inning but that would do it for Neville in the scoring column.
Breard led the Tigers with two hits in the loss. Green allowed one earned run on four hits and three walks in 4.2 innings pitched.
Neville finished its season with a 22-16 overall record.