Month: May 2019

GAME STORY: Wall bounces back from first loss to beat Brock, clinch state berth

The Brock Eagles did something Friday that no other team has done all season by handing Wall a loss in Game 2 of the Region I-3A championship series. But they needed to do it twice to edge out the top-ranked Hawks for a state tournament berth.

Instead, they watched Wall respond to their first defeat, a 6-4 loss at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field, with a 20-1 drubbing in Game 3 to take the series two games to one and earn their second trip to Round Rock in three years.

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GAME STORY: Albany storms back to eliminate New Deal and advance to state (w/ two videos, box scores and photo gallery)

SNYDER — After suffering an 8-0 drubbing at the hands of New Deal in Game 1 of the Region I-2A championship series on Thursday, the Albany baseball team had two choices heading into Game 2.

A: Allow the whipping to affect them mentally and damage their ability to rally. Or B: Use it as motivation. 

Albany chose the latter, and in a pair of thrilling one-run victories (7-6 and 4-3) on Friday, stunned a large crowd at Moffett Field by earning their second trip to the state tournament in three seasons. 

Jackson Chapman drove in B.J. Morris with a sacrifice fly to center field for a walk-off series clincher in the seventh inning of Game 3 to punch AHS’ ticket to Round Rock.  

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GAME STORY: Mascorro’s home run difference in Wall’s win over Brock

Charlie Mascorro’s two-run fourth inning home run was the difference as Wall rallied for a 3-2 win over Brock in the opening game of the Region I-3A final at ACU’s Crutcher Scott Field on Thursday night.

Mascorro’s blast to left field provided the winning run as Caleb Heuertz and Ryan Gully combined to hold the Eagles to four hits as top-ranked Wall improved to 36-0 this season.

Continue reading “GAME STORY: Mascorro’s home run difference in Wall’s win over Brock”

GAME STORY: Juarez, New Deal too much for Albany in Game 1

SNYDER — Uncharacteristic control problems resulted in a short outing for Albany starter Ben West, and his New Deal counterpart made it a long night for AHS hitters in Game 1 of the best-of-three Region I-2A championship series Thursday at Moffett Field.

Jorge Juarez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, eventually settling for a one-hit shutout as New Deal blanked Albany 8-0 to move within a win of a state tournament berth and force coach David Fairchild’s Lions into a must-win situation when the series resumes Friday.

Juarez’s gem was juxtaposed against a three-inning start for West, who allowed five runs (all earned) on four hits, four walks and a hit batsman while striking out only two.

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GAME STORY: Brock falls to Emory Rains 4-2 in 3A state semifinals

Brock’s Lady Eagles pose with their third-place trophy after falling to Emory Rains 4-2 on Wednesday, May 29 in Austin.

AUSTIN — For the fourth straight year, the Brock softball team qualified for the state tournament. And for the fourth straight year, the Lady Eagles will leave Austin with a bittersweet taste in their mouths. 

Falling 4-2 to Emory Rains in Wednesday’s Class 3A semifinal at McCombs Field, the defeat marked a streak of four straight BHS seasons that ended in the state semifinal round, with previous losses coming to Colorado City in 2016 (5-2), and Santa Gertrudis Academy in 2017 and 2018 (8-2 and 5-0). 

Chanlee Oakes tossed a complete-game five-hitter with four strikeouts to lead Rains (33-1), which advances to Thursday’s state title game with top-ranked Hallettsville (37-1) at 6 p.m. at McCombs Field. 

“We left too many on and didn’t have timely hits. The game can be cruel like that sometimes,” Brock coach Ryan Starnes said. “But this team had seven goals coming into this season and reached six of them. That’s impressive. One of our goals was to get back here when nobody thought we could and we did that. We’ve got a lot of things to be proud of.” 

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BCP Podcast No. 48: Brock’s Starnes talks Lady Eagle softball with Evan, Daniel

Brock softball coach Ryan Starnes’ team was expected by some to take a small step backward this season after making its third consecutive state tournament appearance last year. But here we are on May 29, and the Lady Eagles are back  at state for a fourth straight season.

This week, Starnes took a few minutes to talk to Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about this year’s state run, his team’s explosive offense and Brock High School’s winning culture for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel recap last week’s baseball and softball playoff action and break down the Region I-3A and Region I-2A baseball finals matchups.

DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: Region I-3A, I-2A championship series promise fireworks

We’re one week from the UIL baseball state tournament and just three teams remain within Big Country Preps’ coverage area. Two of those — Brock and Wall — will do battle for Region I-3A supremacy, while Albany will take on New Deal for the Region I-2A crown.

That’s a heavy-hitting list as all four of those teams have played in a state tournament within the last two years, and two are now guaranteed to advance to Dell Diamond again this season.

Without wasting anymore time, let’s take a dive into both series and see what each of these squads is up against and will need to do keep its state title hopes alive past this weekend.

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EVAN REN: A quick look at what Brock’s Lady Eagles will face in Austin

There is no such thing as an easy draw in the state softball tournament, so when you speak about degrees of difficulty, it’s important to realize that everything is relative at this stage.

That said, the Brock Lady Eagles have an extremely difficult road in front of them in their fourth straight visit to Austin (even by state tourney standards), with third-ranked Emory Rains (33-1) in a Wednesday semifinal matchup and either top-ranked Halletsville (36-1) or No. 5 Danbury (29-5) awaiting them if they reach Thursday’s championship game.  

Rankings aside, Brock might be leading things off with the toughest team in the 3A field. And I’ll give you two good reasons for it. 

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FEATURE: Confident Albany Lions have sights set on state

After beating Hale Center 5-2 on Saturday to clinch a series sweep over the Owls in the Region I-2A semifinals, the Albany Lions’ post-victory celebration was noticeably subdued.

Aside from an extra high five or two following the final out, there was little to differentiate that reaction from the one seen a couple of nights earlier, when a 2-0 Game 1 victory put them in position to clinch their third region championship appearance in four years.

Sure, there was a trophy presentation after the teams exchanged handshakes, but it lacked the elation or enthusiasm often seen in such ceremonies. Following a brief hoisting of the trophy, the players quickly assembled themselves for a near-perfectly posed team photo — seemingly to appease their more visibly excited parents — and they were on their way.

It was almost as if the Lions had been there before and weren’t yet satisfied enough to let loose.

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FEATURE: Wall’s Seider switches to catcher and quickly becomes one of area’s best

Many baseball coaches will tell you it’s difficult to build a championship team around a poor backstop. 

Stolen bases, passed balls, poor pitch management and lack of infield leadership are just a few of the problems that can arise with a sub-par player behind the plate. 

The Wall Hawks, courtesy of senior Tanner Seider, have none of the aforementioned issues.

In fact, they’re well ahead of the learning curve. 

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GAME REPORT: Brock baseball edges Bushland in Game 3, advances to I-3A championship

IOWA PARK — The Brock baseball team only had three hits in the deciding third game of its Region I-3A semifinal series with Bushland on Saturday. But the Eagles turned those hits into two runs and got a combined shutout from starter Caleb Satterfield and Jase Lopez to edge the Falcons 2-0 and take the series two games to one.

Brock scored a one run in the first inning and another in the fourth, and that proved to be all the offense needed for Satterfield and Lopez, who combined to allow four hits in the victory.

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GAME REPORT: New Deal rallies to take region semifinal series from Hawley

LOCKNEY — After a venue change and multiple weather delays, it was New Deal still standing at the end of a marathon region semifinal series with Hawley on Saturday.

Coach Jason Ybarra’s team rebounded from a 4-3 walk-off loss Friday at Hardin-Simmons to defeat the Bearcats 8-7 and 4-3 on Saturday and advance to the Region I-2A championship series, where they’ll play Albany next week.

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SIDEBAR: Wall’s defense too powerful for Buckaroos

Wall shortstop Ryan Gully showed off range Saturday that would have made Ozzie Smith proud in the Hawks’ Region I-3A semifinal against Breckenridge.

The senior made countless eye-popping stops to either rob a hit or prevent extra bases and his play is a big reason top-ranked Wall will face Brock for a state berth next week.

“He has been like that (all season) and has been really comfortable coming back from his injury,” Wall coach Jason Schniers said. “That was a big injury for a 17-, 18-year-old kid. He made plays tonight that in the back of my mind I was just like ‘Wow. I’m glad he’s on my team.'”

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GAME STORY: Wall closes out Breckenridge 11-1 (two videos and box score included)

One club saw a storied season pushed to the next round. The other saw its greatest season ever finally come to a close. 

There was never going to be a subtle finish for either Wall or Breckenridge in their Region I-3A semifinal series, which played itself out with Wall’s two-game sweep of the Buckaroos. 

The Hawks, who took Game 1 by a 5-4 margin Friday afternoon, closed the series with an 11-1 win Saturday at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field, ending the deepest playoff run in Breckenridge baseball history. 

Luke Young worked a solid five innings and Colton Diebitsch was 3 for 3 with three RBIs from the No. 9 spot to lead Wall (35-0), which will meet Brock (30-5-1) in the Region I-3A championship series next week. 

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GAME STORY: Albany tops Hale Center 5-2, sweeps region semifinal series

HERMLEIGH — Albany pitchers Cade Neve and Joshua Dyer worked around eight walks and combined to strand eight Hale Center base runners in scoring position Saturday to fuel the Lions to a 5-2 win and a series sweep of the Owls in the Region I-2A semifinals at Hermleigh’s Cardinal Field.

Taking the mound just two days after junior Ben West struck out 13 in a one-hit shutout of Hale Center, Neve and Dyer surrendered three combined hits and two unearned runs while striking out 14 to help Albany to its third region championship appearance since 2016.

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GAME REPORT: Brock baseball evens series with Bushland

IOWA PARK — Trailing 1-0 after 4½ innings and facing elimination in their Region I-3A semifinal series with Bushland, the Brock Eagles struck for six runs in the fifth Friday to force a Game 3 on Saturday with a 6-1 win.

Brock, which had been no-hit through four innings, used three hits, two Falcon errors and a walk during its six-run outburst to turn a one-run deficit into a commanding lead.

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GAME STORY: Wall capitalizes on Breck mistakes to escape with 5-4 win in Game 1 (w/ box score, two videos)

When facing a top-ranked unbeaten opponent in a regional semifinal game, the need to hold mistakes to a minimum is axiomatic. 

The fact that Breckenridge gave No. 1 Wall three unearned runs behind five errors and still nearly pulled off an upset in a 5-4 Game 1 loss Friday at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field, is the backdrop the two teams will play against in Game 2.

Caleb Heuertz scattered 10 Breckenridge hits in a complete-game win and Charlie Mascorro was 1 for 2 with an RBI and a run scored to lead Wall (34-0), which can close out the series with a win in Game 2, slated for 3:30 p.m. at ACU.  Game 3, if needed, will begin 30 minutes after Game 2.

Jake Jansa scored the eventual game-winner for the Hawks in the top of the seventh on an infield error, bringing the Wall contingent to its feet. 

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GAME STORY: Hawley walks off with 4-3 win over New Deal in Game 1

Sitting at 0 for 2 with a sacrifice bunt through his first three plate appearances, Hawley’s Jaron Reynolds was having a forgettable day at the plate when he stepped into the batter’s box for his final at-bat.

But with his team down to its final out and the winning run standing at second, the junior second baseman needed all of one swing to change that.

After watching from the on-deck circle as Tate Thompson struck out for the second out of the seventh inning, Reynolds picked up his teammate with a bases-loaded double over the New Deal right fielder to score Caleb Comer and Robert Ybarra for the tying and winning runs in a 4-3 walk-off win over the Lions.

The come-from-behind victory gave the Bearcats a one game to none lead in their Region I-2A semifinal series, putting them one win away from a spot in the region championship. 

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GAME STORY: West pitches Albany past Hale Center in Game 1

HERMLEIGH — The Albany Lions scored just two of their nine runners to reach scoring position Friday in Game 1 of their Region I-2A semifinal series against Hale Center, but ace Ben West was so good on the mound that it  didn’t matter.

The junior right-hander struck out 13 Owl batters in a one-hit shutout to lead AHS to a 2-0 victory at Cardinal Field and pull his team within one win of its third region final appearance since 2016.

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GAME REPORT: Jaco, Bushland too much for Brock baseball in Game 1

LUBBOCK — The Brock baseball team could never solve Bushland starter Skyler Jaco on Thursday, tallying just three hits and two walks in falling 8-0 to the Falcons in Game 1 of a best-of-three Region I-3A semifinal series.

The Bushland junior outdueled Brock ace Cooper Nelson, who pitched a strong game himself until running into trouble in the sixth inning. It was just a 2-0 game until the sixth, when Bushland struck for six runs to put things away.

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GAME STORY: Bushland dodges several Brock bullets to capture Game 1

IOWA PARK — From Bushland’s perspective, Wednesday’s 7-4 win over Brock in Game 1 of the Region I-3A championship series wasn’t pretty. 

What it was, was a near-seminar in dodging bullets and making plays in key situations.

Aside from being outhit 10-4, the Lady Falcons stranded no fewer than 12 Brock base runners, seven of those in scoring position. 

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BCP Podcast No. 47: Evan, Daniel dive deep into softball, baseball playoffs

With the baseball and softball playoffs nearing their end and six Big Country teams remaining between the two sports, Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood decided to forego a guest for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to dive deep into the remaining baseball and softball series.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel look back at last week’s action and say goodbye to the area baseball and softball teams we lost.

FEATURE: Family ties too strong for Lombard to resist leaving Wall

In the end, it took a special situation for Tate Lombard to leave girls basketball powerhouse Wall.

That opportunity came about over the weekend and the Big Country Preps girls basketball coach of the year resigned his position on Monday morning to take an assistant coach position on his father’s staff at Class 4A Canyon High School.

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DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: Previewing the remaining softball, baseball series

The high school softball season is down to its final two weeks, baseball season is down to its last three, and the Big Country contingent for both sports is dwindling.

In softball, we’re down to Brock, which will take on Bushland for the Region I-3A crown this weekend, while five area baseball teams remain with a shot to advance to state.

In Class 3A, it’s Wall, Breckenridge and Brock. In Class 2A, it’s Hawley and Albany.

With just six teams and five series remaining to divide our attention across, it’s time to get out the magnifying glass and take a closer look at what each of those teams is facing this week. We hope you enjoy this look at the Big Country playoff schedule.

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FEATURE: Buckaroos approaching series with top-ranked Wall as a special chance

“Great moments are born from great opportunity.” — Herb Brooks 

If the top-ranked Wall baseball team is beatable, nobody has proven it in 2019. 

Area clubs have had 33 opportunities to defeat the Hawks and every one of them have been shot down in flames —more often than not, by lopsided margins. 

That is the challenge currently facing Breckenridge coach Kevin Bartley, whose Buckaroos (32-3) will take on Wall (33-0) in a best-of-three Region I-3A semifinal series, beginning at 1 p.m. Friday at Abilene Christian University. 

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FEATURE: Can Brock’s Lady Eagles hit their way to a state title?

If the old saying that pitching and defense win championships is true, then perhaps its premature to give too much attention to the offensive performance of the Brock softball team. 

Then again, there is another adage that for every rule, there is an exception. And with the current numbers being posted by Brock (31-6), one may be tempted to believe that offensive production alone could push the Lady Eagles all the way to the end of the state bracket. 

Skeptical? Try these stats on for size. 

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FEATURE: Albany’s run to region semis continues trend of baseball success for Lions

With the run of success the Albany baseball team has had the past five years, it should surprise no one that the Lions are back in the region semifinals.

Coach David Fairchild’s team has advanced to at least the third round of the playoffs every year since 2015, with a trip to the Region I-2A championship game in 2016 and the program’s first state tournament appearance in 2017.

With four players on their roster who played on that state team, the Lions have a small nucleus of upperclassmen who know what that experience is like. And those guys have a whole bunch of teammates who are eager to find out themselves.

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FEATURE: Aggressive Hawley lineup dangerous from top to bottom

The Hawley baseball team’s offensive approach isn’t a particularly novel one. The Bearcats subscribe to the same “Get on base, move the runner around, repeat” process that most other successful lineups do.

But what is unique about this Hawley squad is the efficiency with which it does those things and the lengths it can — and will — go to to get them done.

Coach Jamie Seago is blessed with a lineup that goes nine deep with players who can get a hit when needed, will lay down a bunt if asked to and are always looking to take an extra base once they get on. And it’s the combination of those things that makes the Bearcat lineup one of the toughest in all of Class 2A to pitch through.

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FEATURE: Brock’s Nelson a genuine rarity among high school pitchers

It is an accepted norm that successful high school baseball pitchers require high strikeout counts. 

The reason for that is simple: aluminum bats hitting into high school defenses is a recipe for run production, forcing pitchers to take matters into their own hands. 

There are very few exceptions. Yet the Brock Eagles and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor have managed to find one in senior BHS southpaw Cooper Nelson.  

Nelson, a soft-throwing change-up specialist with razor-sharp control, has required only 49 strikeouts through 78 innings to post an 8-2 record and a microscopic 0.81 ERA.  

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GAME STORY: Hawley rebounds from Game 1 loss to eliminate Stamford

HERMLEIGH — After Friday’s 6-5 loss to district rival Stamford, Hawley coach Jamie Seago said he hoped the four-run, seventh-inning rally that pulled his team within a run would carry over into the second day of the Bearcats’ Region I-2A quarterfinal series with the Bulldogs.

That would certainly seem to have been the case.

Hawley, which was held to one run over the first six innings in Game 1, pounded out 31 hits over two games Saturday, rebounding from Friday’s loss with an 8-4 win in Game 2 and a 20-7 victory in the deciding third game.

The wins improved Seago’s Bearcats to 22-11-1 on the year and pushed them into the I-2A semis, where they’ll face 21-3 New Deal next week. 

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GAME STORY: Brock hangs on to beat Clyde in decisive Game 2 (w/ two videos and box score)

With Brock handing Clyde a 10-0 drubbing in Game 1 of their Region I-3A quarterfinal series on Thursday, it may have been tempting for those watching to simply write off the Bulldogs in Game 2.

Brock coach Hart Hering knew better. 

With Clyde facing elimination, the Bulldogs nearly forced a Game 3, falling to Brock 8-6 at Abilene Christian University on Saturday.  

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