CARROLLTON — Although a late-season skid dashed the Prosper baseball team’s hopes of a District 5-6A championship, the Eagles are regaining their state-ranked form at the right time, it seems.
Averaging just 2.5 runs over their final six games of the regular season, the Eagles’ bats roared to life during the team’s Class 6A bi-district playoff series against Hebron. Prosper outscored the Hawks 20-3 over the course of two days, punctuating a series sweep on Friday with a 10-1 victory.
“We were in a little dry spell with runners in scoring position and I think we did a much better job with that this week,” said Scott Holder, Prosper head coach. “It started a little slow [in Game 1] after we left the bases loaded early on, but it’s contagious. I think we did a much better job handling that fastball and hitting it when we needed to.”
Building off Thursday’s 10-2 victory in Game 1, Prosper logged back-to-back double-digit scoring efforts for the second time this season — previously doing so on March 5 in tournament wins over Highland Park (10-0) and Denison (10-2).
The Eagles exuded a similar punch from the plate on Friday, tagging the Hawks for 10 hits and getting started early. Senior Chase Pendley led off the ballgame with a single and found home later in the frame following a sacrifice fly by senior Jackson Juvera.
Call it a harbinger of things to come, as Pendley was dialed in from the start. The Baylor commit finished his night hitting 4-of-5, highlighted by a three-run homer over the left-center wall to jump start a five-run sixth inning that led to a 10-0 lead.
“He’s just steady and such a great ball player,” Holder said. “He’s been hot for a while now, about a couple weeks. He just understands what he has to do for us and his instincts are phenomenal. He knows when to jump on a pitch. He can do it all and is one of the best I’ve coached.”
Top 6: Have a night, Chase Pendley! Already with a 2-run single earlier in the ballgame, Pendley tacks on a 3-run HR for good measure. Prosper leads Hebron 8-0. Pendley is 3/4 with 5 RBIs and 3 runs scored. pic.twitter.com/1bQ6Bf0CD0— Matt Welch (@MWelchSLM) May 8, 2021
Pendley knocked in five runs in the win, including a two-run single in the top of the second to score seniors Blake McEwan and Case Pettis for a 3-0 advantage. A two-error sequence by the Hebron defense followed and allowed Pendley to find home and tack on an additional run.
Junior Easton Carmichael got in on the action in the top of the fifth inning by belting a solo home run for a 5-0 advantage.
“We hadn’t hit a home run in several weeks, so it was pretty nice to see that again,” Holder said.
The Eagles set a pace that a surging Hebron team couldn’t match. The Hawks carried a four-game winning streak into the playoffs after sweeping series against Plano West and Lewisville to force a four-way tie for third place in the district. Hebron was seeded third via tiebreakers but couldn’t rediscover its late-season mojo against a Prosper team currently ranked No. 15 in Class 6A in the Diamond Pro/THSB top 25 and not far removed from a top-five standing.
The Hawks totaled five hits on Friday, three coming over the final two innings to contribute to the team’s lone run of the night. In the bottom of the sixth, senior Andrew Tinsley singled and senior Connor McGinnis doubled to move both runners into scoring position. Tinsley found home moments later on a groundout by senior Trent McCown.
“The first round is tough as is, especially when you’re going against a good ball club like that,” Holder said. “Hebron came in hot having won a few in a row and that’s scary. That first round is hard to get through. You want to make it out just to loosen up and relax a bit. That’s what I was really looking forward to with this team. I feel like if we can get past the first round then we can relax and start getting back to our old selves.”
Prosper senior Josh Barnhouse got the win on the mound, throwing a complete game to outduel Hebron senior Tobin Oler.
Friday’s win advances Prosper to the area round of the playoffs for the ninth consecutive postseason. The Eagles await either Arlington Martin or Richardson at a time and place to be determined.