Linden-Kildare had an advantage in pitching depth. The Tigers also played better defense Friday at Texas High to eliminate James Bowie, and qualify for next week’s 2A State Baseball Tournament in Round Rock.
The Tigers’ celebration was delayed one game Friday. James Bowie (19-6) rallied for six runs in the bottom of the seventh to edge L-K in Friday’s opener, 9-8. There wasn’t as much drama in the Region III-2A series finale.
The Tigers scored six runs on one hit in the third inning en route to a 9-4 victory.Mason Johnson pitched in all three games of the Region III-2A championship series. He also hit a 2-run homer against James Bowie.
L-K coach John Roberts agreed that his pitching staff and the Tigers’ defensive performance were key factors in the series.
“We have guys who we can put on the mound and compete,” said Roberts. “That was our advantage, and that’s why I wanted to play a three-game series. It was tough losing the first game today like we did. We were one out away from celebrating, and the wheels completely fell off.
“We could have easily packed up and gone home there, but we didn’t do that. The guys battled, we were warriors. I talked to the guys before we came over here today.”
Dalton McBride led James Bowie at the plate with seven hits in the series. James Bowie lit up the scoreboard first in the decisive third game.
Zane DeBerry walked to start the second, moving up on a sacrifice bunt by Evan Williams. Cason Braley singled to left one out later, DeBerry stopping at third. He scored one out later on Dalton McBride’s single. McBride finished the series with seven hits for the Pirates.
Pirates defense collapses against L-K
Things went sour for the Pirates in the third. Braley walked the first two batters in the third, using up his eligibility. DeBerry took over on the mound, with L-K (20-9) taking advantage of three infield errors to built a 6-1 cushion. Duece Schuler’s run-scoring single to right was the only hit in the inning.
Chase Bynum singled to right to start the Tigers’ fourth, scoring on a triple by Jacob Owen. He then scored on a grounder to second by Schuler.
Singles by Whitt Rogers and DeBerry accounted for the Bucs’ second run. The Tigers answered on a walk, wild pitch and run-scoring single by Bynum to make it 9-2.
Pirates didn’t go quietly against L-K
The Pirates refused to go quietly, scoring twice in the seventh. Rogers singled to center with one out, and three consecutive infield hits by Brandon Obenoskey, DeBerry and Evan Williams made it 9-4. Mason Johnson, who pitched in all three games in the series, got a save after entering in the fifth inning.
“I knew we wouldn’t quit,” said James Bowie coach Eddy May. “Our defense let us down all three games in the series. That’s the game of baseball, it happens. When you get in the regional finals those mistakes will come back and get you.
“Linden-Kildare had four pitchers who could go, and we had been using three pretty much all year. We had to find other kids to go in and pitch, and some did a pretty good job. We just didn’t back them up defensively.”
Rogers and DeBerry led the Pirates with three hits each in the decisive game. Owen led L-K’s attack with a triple and single. Bynum was the only other Tiger with two hits.
In Friday’s first game, Johnson smashed a two-run homer into the leftfield bullpen to give L-K a 4-2 lead. A run-scoring single by DeBerry in the bottom of the fifth made it 4-3.
James Bowie’s prospects looked slim after four Pirate errors helped L-K build an 8-3 cushion going to the bottom of the seventh. That’s when McBride walked and scored on a triple by Evan Barron. Rogers then delivered a single to score Barron. DeBerry singled one out later, and the next four Pirate batters were hit by a pitch to make it 8–7. McBride hit a 3-2 offering to center for a walk-off two-run single.