The last hurdle to a championship always is the toughest.
John Wenger, McFarland High’s baseball coach the past 27 years, certainly knows that.
Farmersville coach Freddie Lopez has long understood it also, though that didn’t make things any easier on his Aztecs.
Mustering just three hits and struggling to find control on the mound, top-seeded Farmersville struggled again in the final and finished as the Central Section runner-up for a second straight year with No. 2 McFarland securing a 9-3 victory in the Division-VI championship Saturday at Rawhide Ballpark.
“That’s a bitter pill to swallow,” Lopez said. “We didn’t play well. I believed we were confident going in the game. We just didn’t really put things together.”
McFarland can relate after finishing runner-up from 2009-2011. But behind a 10-hit performance, the Cougars (18-9) finally captured their first championship.
McFarland even got to Aztecs star pitcher Sam Metcalf, who just didn’t have it after pitching four innings Wednesday in a 2-1 win against Parlier in the semifinals.
Entering in relief with the score tied 1-1 in the third, Metcalf couldn’t find his control and surrendered four runs.
Offensively, Metcalf also was limited with McFarland walking the star quarterback in football three times.
“Just frustrating getting this close again and coming up short,” said Metcalf, who received a scholarship to play football at Division II program Minnesota State Moorhead after leading Farmersville to a section football championship this past fall.
Farmersville’s chances at a late rally were essentially all but snuffed out after McFarland scored four in the top of the seventh. If not for that, the Aztecs might’ve had a chance in the seventh after scoring twice and loading the bases.
McFarland won the season series against Farmersville 2-1.
“I know what it’s like to be Farmersville,” Wenger said. “It took 27 years for me to get here. We won it this time. It means everything to this program.”