LITTLE ELM – The Flower Mound baseball team led Allen by eight runs when junior Sam Erickson came up to bat in the top of the fifth inning. Already with a double and triple during Game 1 in Thursday’s Region I-6A quarterfinal, Erickson had one thought on his mind.
“I was just like, ‘Let’s do this right now, let’s end this game and save (Zack James') arm for next week,’” he said.
Erickson, who was recently moved to the top of the Jaguars’ batting order, hit a loud shot off the barrel of his bat that went for a two-run home run to put the run rule into effect. James capped off a dominant 10-0 victory by Flower Mound by inducing a fly-out and two ground-ball outs to give the Jaguars a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-3 series.
Top 1st: Flower Mound 3, Allen 0@fmjagsbaseball hot bats to begin this game.Zane Becker three-run bomb over the wall. pic.twitter.com/CAVKA9kJkZ— David Wolman (@david_wolmanFWS) May 19, 2023
Erickson has been on fire this postseason. Even when Flower Mound lost 8-6 to Prosper in Game 1 of bi-district, Erickson had two hits in the third spot in the lineup. He was moved up to the one-hole the following game and his production hasn’t dropped off. Erickson is up to 11 hits through six postseason games.
“We moved him there about five or six games ago,” said Danny Wallace, Flower Mound head coach. “He doesn’t walk, so I’ve kind of kept him out of that spot and you can see what he can do when he drives in runners. We went through a little lull at the end of district when we weren’t just scoring enough runs. I moved him to the lead-off spot and he’s been a massive spark.”
Allen (24-12) came into the game looking to build off the momentum of a thrilling 2-1 win over Arlington in Game 2 of its area-round playoff series last Friday. Junior Tate Greene connected on the game-winning RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Unfortunately for Allen, the Eagles were unable to build any momentum against a Jaguar team that was fresh off a dominating two-game sweep of South Grand Prairie.
And for the Jaguars, it wasn’t just Erickson that was a major contributor for Flower Mound (30-9) on Thursday. The Jaguars got contributions from their entire team and the bats were hot.
After senior Ryder McDaniel hit a single into left field and junior Josh Glaser drew a walk to put runners at first and second bases with one out in the top of the first inning, junior Zane Becker hit a three-run home run over the wall in center field to give Flower Mound a quick 3-0 lead.
“It’s always good to get the runs early because once they start to sweat, they start to feel good and relax,” Wallace said. “Absolutely it was huge for us to get on them in the first inning.”
Erickson got his first hit of the night in the second inning – a double – and scored on a wild pitch to bump the Jaguar advantage to 4-0.
Allen sophomore center fielder Ayden Austin made a great diving attempt at a fly ball in the top of the fourth, but the ball was just out of his reach. Erickson made it all the way to third base for an RBI triple, then scored on a passed ball to give the Jaguars a six-run advantage.
“When I was younger, I would hit lead-off sometimes,” Erickson said. “I’ve done it before, but I’m happy to hit anywhere. Whatever is best for the team.”
Flower Mound continued to pound out the out the hits.
Junior Adrian Rodriguez lined an RBI double off the wall in center field later in the inning to plate the seventh run of the game for the Jaguars.
Flower Mound scored in all but one inning, and the Jaguars proceeded to put the game away in the fifth inning. Junior Sam Distel scored on a wild pitch, setting the stage for Erickson’s long home run.
“When we get on fire, we get on fire,” Becker said. “It’s like a big family here. Pitching was good tonight. Hitting was good tonight. It was an all-around good game.”
That was more than enough run support for James.
After lasting four innings in his first playoff start versus Prosper, James has gone the distance in each of his last two starts – both complete-game shutouts. The junior right-hander was in control from the get-go on Thursday, striking out three against just three hits.
Allen had one base runner advance past first base for the entire game – a double by Greene, who advanced to third on a sacrifice fly by junior Brady Coe in the bottom of the fourth.
Flower Mound can complete the sweep of Allen on Friday night, with first pitch set for 7:30 p.m. back at Little Elm.
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