Tag: Baseball

GAME STORY: Albany’s postseason run ends with 4-1 loss to Big Sandy

ROUND ROCK — It took a Division I-caliber pitcher throwing for the defending state champions to finally bring Albany’s season to a close in the Class 2A state semifinals on Wednesday at Dell Diamond. 

Texas Tech-bound Brandon Hendrix worked six solid innings with 12 strikeouts, while Broch Holmes and Graden Emmons were both 2 for 3 with an RBI triple to lead Big Sandy to a 4-1 win over Albany. 

With the game remaining scoreless through 4½ innings, Big Sandy struck for three runs on three hits, including the triples by Holmes and Emmons, to give the Wildcats the lead for good. Big Sandy (35-4) now advances to Thursday’s state title game, where it will to face Linden-Kildare, a 5-0 winner over Valley Mills in Wednesday’s other semifinal. 

The 2A title game is set for noon at Dell Diamond. 

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EVAN REN: Albany to pull out all the stops against state champs in Round Rock

Sooner or later, the road to a state championship was going to lead through Big Sandy anyway. So the Albany Lions (23-7) may as well face the top-ranked Wildcats (34-4) in the state semifinals.

Why waste time? 

The Lions will square off with the defending state champs at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Round Rock’s Dell Diamond. The winner advances to face either Valley Mills (28-6) or Linden-Kildare (20-9) for the state title at noon on Thursday. 

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FEATURE: Albany’s Hill grateful for 11th-hour opportunity, lessons learned from it

ALBANY — It wasn’t until the cusp of his graduation that Albany senior Ryan Hill was finally able to do what he had worked toward for months — play on the 2019 AHS baseball team. 

Hill, a multi-sport standout who will be playing football at Hardin-Simmons University this fall, virtually shredded his right knee while playing basketball for the Lions in January — ending his high school hoops career in a split second.

Whether he could make it back in time for baseball depended on two things: First, an unparalleled response to rehab work. And second, a deep playoff run by Albany that could buy him just enough time to contribute something — anything — on the diamond. 

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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 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: 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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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: 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: 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: 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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GAME STORY: Buckaroos edge Holliday in Game 1 thriller (w/ box score, two videos and photo gallery)

GRAHAM — An 18-game winning streak came within an eyelash of ending on Thursday, as the Breckenridge Buckaroos rallied from a 3-1 deficit with a five-run fifth in a nail-biting 6-5 Region I-3A quarterfinal win over Holliday. 

Justin Bell drove in Gerardo Palacios  and Aaryn Medina with a two-out single in fifth to lift the Buckaroos (31-2), who can push their winning streak to 20 games and clinch the best-of-three series if they win Game 2 on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Graham’s Steer Stadium. 

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FEATURE: Albany benefiting from latest West installment

Two of his three older brothers — Gus and Ligon — have helped pitch the Stamford Bulldogs into the state tournament in recent years. 

So it may come as no surprise that 17-year-old Albany junior Ben West has made a splash this season as one of the top small-school pitchers in the Big Country. 

The only difference is, this particular West model will be sporting red, rather than blue, when Albany and Haskell meet in a three-game regional quarterfinal series, beginning at 4 p.m. on Thursday at McMurry. 

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Big Country Preps Player of the Week: Haskell’s Rodriguez goes yard four times to take award

Back in the old days, Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium, home of the Atlanta Braves until the late 1990s, was commonly referred to as “The Launching Pad.”  

I submit to you that since that facility was demoed in 1997, the nickname is now free game and applicable wherever we may choose to use it. 

I choose to apply it to Hermleigh’s beautiful, but not exactly pitcher-friendly softball complex, where our Big Country Preps Player of the Week, Haskell’s Ryanna Rodriguez, put on such a dazzling hitting display. So dazzling that she even eclipsed a no-hitter for our top spot. 

Keep in mind, Rodriguez hadn’t homered all season prior to last week’s area-round series with Winters. But with a strong wind blowing to left-center at The Launching Pad, Rodriguez was transformed into Hank Aaron. 

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GAME STORY: Maidens take Game 1 from Winters (two videos, box score and photo gallery w/34 images included)

HERMLEIGH — With a steady, strong wind blowing out directly to center, the stage was set for offensive fireworks in Wednesday’s Class 2A area round game at Hermleigh High School’s softball field.

Haskell and Winters delivered it in a 17-7 win for the Maidens. 

Ryanna Rodriguez was 4 for 4 with three home runs and seven RBIs and Lauren Alexander was 4 for 5 with two homers, a double and three RBIs to lead Haskell (22-8-1), which can wrap up the best-of-three series with a win in Game 2 at 5 p.m. Friday in Hermleigh. 

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GAME STORY: Clyde takes 5-3A district championship with 5-3 win over Jim Ned

TUSCOLA — The Clyde baseball team clinched its fourth consecutive district championship with a 5-3 win over Jim Ned on Monday night in District 5-3A play.

Riley Rice went 6.2 innings and allowed three runs while scattering four hits. Rice also struck out eight and walked three as he outdueled Jim Ned freshman Tate Yardley.

Yardley went 5.1 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits while striking out four. He walked one and hit four others.

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FEATURE: Youthful Blizzards one of area’s top surprises in 2019

Picture a high school baseball team that has 10 players who are either freshmen or sophomores. 

Add a stat sheet that has only one home run for the entire ball club through 14 games. And for good measure, add the fact that the team’s top pitcher is a freshman. 

Now try to guess what the team’s record would be at this point.  Sub-.500?  Perhaps .500 at best? 

You’d be incorrect with both estimates. 

The team in question is the 2019 Winters Blizzards, who enter today at 10-4 overall (6-2 in District 7-2A), having already posted more wins than they’ve managed over the past two years combined. 

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FEATURE: Clyde pitching trio equips Bulldogs for possible playoff run

CLYDE — While it isn’t impossible for a high school baseball team to reach the state tournament without pitching depth, one would likely need two things in order to achieve it: extraordinary hitting and/or extraordinary luck.

Both avenues are longshots, with hitting serving as compensation and luck helping the pitching-challenged to avoid three-game series via successful coin flips. 

The 2019 Clyde Bulldogs (18-4, 7-1 District 5-3A) have no such concern. And it’s a good thing, coming in a region that features Wall, Brock and Breckenridge — ranked first, third and 15th respectively by the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association. 

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GAME STORY: Laughlin, Clyde stop Anson 5-1

CLYDE — With Clyde’s Payton Laughlin on the hill, the Anson Tigers knew coming into Tuesday’s District 5-3A road game that they would have to take advantage of what few opportunities that came their way. 

Unfortunately for AHS, Laughlin was able to close the door nearly every time it opened, stranding four Tigers in scoring position in a 5-1 Clyde win. 

Tossing a three-hitter with 12 strikeouts, Laughlin (6-1) overcame three errors behind him and three of his own walks to earn the win with his seventh complete game of the year. His ERA dropped to 1.12 in the process. 

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FEATURE: Relaxed, confident, Buckaroos just having fun

Even before they had pulled off a stunning upset of Brock on Friday night, there were whispers that the 2019 Breckenridge baseball team was one of the best the Buckaroos have ever fielded. 

Friday’s 3-0 win over the top-ranked Eagles might confirm it in the long run, though a 19-2-1 start may suffice in the view of some. 

In the meantime, first-year coach Kevin Bartley’s crew is bringing a noticeable level of relaxed confidence to the table in a season where one of their primary goals from the outset was to simply enjoy the game. 

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GAME STORY: Breckenridge stuns Brock behind dazzling effort from Woodward (w/ box score, two videos and photo gallery)

BROCK — For at least three full innings during Friday’s game at top-ranked Brock, Breckenridge starting pitcher Owen Woodward was nervous, his breaking ball was hanging and he wasn’t quite sure if he and the Buckaroos were going to pull off the upset they had in mind. 

But after being staked to 1-0 lead in the third inning, the junior right-hander settled in, his curve developed a nasty snap in the late innings and he finished with a jaw-dropping three-hit shutout in a shocking 3-0 Breckenridge win. 

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FEATURE: Hill embracing role as Cooper Cougars’ ace

Cooper junior Braiden Hill has a lot of physical tools that make him a successful starting pitcher. He’s big, he throws hard and he’s got a good second pitch he can turn to when that fastball’s not going quite where he wants it to.

But it’s Hill’s mentality that has taken him from a solid rotation piece for coach Cody Salyers last season to the unquestioned ace of the Cougar pitching staff this year.

The strong-armed right-hander believes he’s better than every batter he faces, and it’s his goal each at-bat to prove that.

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