LITTLE ELM — Even in defeat on Thursday in Game 1 of its regional quarterfinal series, Prosper head baseball coach Scott Holder was plenty encouraged by what his Eagles showed at the plate.
Prosper built a 4-1 lead before fellow powerhouse Coppell took charge late in the ballgame with six consecutive runs to pace a 7-4 victory and a 1-0 series lead.
Fast-forward to Friday and Game 2 was also decided late in the contest, only this time with Prosper taking charge. The Eagles did so behind a staggering 10 runs scored in the top of the fifth inning to hand the state-ranked Cowboys their most lopsided defeat of the season, a 12-1 run-rule loss from Little Elm High School to square the best-of-3 series at 1-1.
"It was a great response. We came out swinging well last night, too ... but they just made a run at us late," Holder said. "Today was two great pitchers who have won a lot of ballgames and I thought our guys did a great job of making adjustments in the early innings and really started barreling at the baseball."
It was an outcome the likes of which Coppell hadn't endured all season. The Cowboys entered Friday's contest riding a 10-game winning streak and hadn't allowed more than eight runs in a ballgame all year, let alone in a single inning.
Prosper promptly blew open what was a 2-1 lead, totaling six hits in the decisive fifth frame. A Coppell throwing error initially sparked the rally, scoring senior Austin Rogers for a 3-1 lead.
To the Cowboys' credit, junior pitcher TJ Pompey managed to induce the inning's second out on the ensuing at-bat, only for Prosper to send nine more batters to the plate before Coppell could register that third and final out.
In between, all manner of chaos broke loose within the Prosper offense. The Cowboys attempted to aid their cause by intentionally walking standout freshman Luke Billings to get to junior Jacob Nelson — a decision that promptly backfired after Nelson ripped a line-drive single to left field to score two runs for a 5-1 advantage.
The floodgates opened from there on out. Senior Zach Howell followed up with an RBI single and the Eagles later strung together three consecutive RBI hits between Rogers and seniors Easton Carmichael and Jacob Devenny. It was Devenny's hustle that thrust the ballgame into run-rule territory, beating out a grounder to first base by diving into the bag while two more runs scored to make it 12-1.
"We've gotten better week after week and we have the potential to do that," Holder said. "It's just a team that finds ways to win. In baseball, it's contagious like that and when the bottom of your lineup starts barreling up balls like that, it gets everyone going."
It was more than enough of a cushion for Prosper senior pitcher Lucas Davenport, who surrendered one run to Coppell in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI single from senior Landry Fee before settling in. Davenport allowed just three hits and struck out six batters in the win.
Pompey, meanwhile, was saddled with the loss for Coppell, tossing 4.2 innings during which he surrendered eight runs on nine hits.
Even before its grand finale, Prosper had success putting the ball in play early on with five hits over the game's first two innings. One came on an RBI single from senior Brody Bushey in the top of the second to knot the count at 1-1 before the Eagles seized their first lead of the game in the fourth thanks to some aggressive base-running by Nelson.
Nelson singled on a one-pitch at-bat and then proceeded to steal both second and third base before scoring on a wild pitch to give Prosper a 2-1 edge.
"Jacob is a fire-plug and can really put a lot of pressure on you when he gets on the bases," Holder said. "We just got him back two weeks ago after a shoulder injury and seeing him get hot again was really huge for us. He's a very athletic kid who plays the game with a lot of energy and speed."
Nelson, Rogers, Carmichael and Devenny all tallied two hits for Prosper, while Coppell's offense was supplied by a trio of singles hit between Pompey, Fee and sophomore Michael Russell. Senior Walker Polk drew a walk.
The run-rule verdict raises the stakes for Game 3, set for noon Saturday back in Little Elm. Coppell enters the contest looking to punch a return ticket to the regional semifinals, while Prosper has aspirations of its first four-round playoff run since 2018.
"This is a process and our guys have grown, so to see them put something like this out against a great team like that is really huge," Holder said. "It shows the labor of the work they put in everyday. You hope to carry that momentum over into Game 3, but at the same time, you've stirred up a pretty big hornet's nest."