IRVING — As the Hebron faithful ushered out of their seats as the sixth inning wore on, there was calming presence sweeping the ballpark. It was two teams now deadlocked at one game apiece, district foes in the eye of the hurricane. The message for both sides was clear: be ready for Game 3 on Saturday.
With their backs against the wall on Friday night, the Jaguars flew past the Hawks, 10-3. Although the game felt closer at points, there was certainly no doubt by the end of the second-to-last frame there would be a rubber match in this 6-6A regional quarterfinal showdown.
With the score 4-2, in home half of the sixth inning, Flower Mound batted around the order and then some. Starting with loading the bases early, Will Miller was the first to strike. Knocking a RBI single into left field, the junior got the hit-train rolling. He was followed by Austin Russell’s RBI single of his own that put the Jaguars up by four runs.
The inning, for the Hawks, just would not seem to end. With the bases constantly loaded, two more runs scored by way of a walk and a hit batter. By the end of the 45-minute inning, the score showed 8-2 and both sides were looking to save pitching for the final contest tomorrow.
“We were putting pressure on them up and down the line up,” said Danny Wallace, Flower Mound head coach. “We scored in four out of the seven innings, so we were pressuring them all night long and we were able to stack some runs there.”
In an offensive flurry for the Jaguars, they were able to knock out Hebron’s steady hand after just three innings pitched. Jeremy Slate, who has been terrific for the Hawks since moving up the varsity squad just two weeks before the playoffs, had one of his rougher outings. Giving up four early runs, Hebron head coach Steve Stone elected to go to the bullpen earlier than he would have liked.
It was an outburst of hitting really. Seven out of the nine betters recorded a hit for Flower Mound en route to 11 hits on the game. Eight players reached base and a handful of Jaguars touched home plate themselves. They did all of this without two of their key offensive weapons being a large factor in this one as the No.3 and 4 hitters were the only two players not to record a hit, allowing the other pieces to pick up the slack in a big way.
“We had good at-bats and good hits up and down the lineup,” Wallace said. “When Game 3 starts tomorrow I don’t know if this game will be on our minds though. I have been a part of too many Game 3s to say it will. They are weird. I have been on the winning and losing side of them and know this one won’t play a huge effect.”
As far as pitching decisions went for the Hawks, they attempted to get as many guys in without burning their eligibility pitch count for Saturday.
“We tried to win the game tonight,” Stone said. “When it got to the point down the stretch, we tried to get as many guy’s feet wet without not being able to have them for Saturday … I’m not worried about it, we will be ready for Game 3.”
Dallas Baptist University played host to the rubber match of the heated rivalry (results not available as of press time).