PROSPER – With a narrow, 2-0 win over Plano West Tuesday (in a game that featured just seven hits), the Prosper baseball team moved to 8-1 in league play and into a tie with Allen atop the District 9-6A standings.
It was a game decided by a pair of miscues for the Wolves, now 3-6. In the first inning, Prosper senior Dalton Davis punished a mistake up in the zone from West senior ace Jack Hattrup, sending a solo shot over the Eagles’ oversized left-field wall.
Then, in the home half of the sixth, Hattrup struck out Prosper senior backstop Luke Johnson, but the ball got by his counterpart in West junior Carlos Pirela to allow the two-out baserunner.
From there, junior courtesy runner Zach Czarnecky stole second on an attempted pickoff from southpaw Hattrup and came across on a throwing error from Pirela as he attempted to swipe third.
“We can’t have an opportunity to get a guy out three times and not get it. … This district’s too good. Prosper’s too good. Everybody’s too good in this district to make those types of mistakes,” said Kevin Clark, West head coach. “When the plays are there to be made, we’ve got to make them.”
Opposite Hattrup was the Eagles’ own No. 1 arm in senior Caleb Putnam, who worked a complete game and scattered four hits while striking out six.
Two of those punchouts helped shut the door with the Wolves threatening in the top half of the seventh, as West pushed runners to second and third with one away on a one-out double from sophomore shortstop Chase Spencer before Putnam put a bow on the Eagle victory.
“It was a great high school baseball game. Great pitching performance by both teams, and what we just talked to our kids about right before we released them was that we’ve got to have better at-bats,” said Rick Carpenter, Prosper head coach. “[It’s about] not swinging at his pitches. … We struck out way too much, but that happens when you’re facing a good pitcher.
“He was good, and we’re just happy to get out of there with a win against a guy like that.”
While Carpenter wasn’t pleased with his team’s three-hit effort on the whole, the veteran skipper said getting on the board early with the two-out homer from Davis helped Putnam outlast Hattrup in a battle between two of 9-6A’s premier arms.
“He’s pitched in tight games all year long, because he’s pitching on Tuesday and drawing everybody’s ace. … He’s pitched under duress all year long, basically,” he said. “I’ve just got to think that scoring a run early lets you take a little bit of a breath of air, but he’s good in tight situations.”
West junior Brandon Blair was the only player to collect more than one hit on the night, tallying a single in the second and a double in the fourth.
It was a lack of situational hitting that sunk the Wolves in the setback, as they left runners on in five of their seven at-bats.
“I think it just usually comes down to, when you need that big hit, not putting too much on yourself and just staying within your approach,” Clark said. “I feel like we did a better job than we have in a couple of other close games, but you’ve just got to get the job done, plain and simple.”
For the Eagles, Carpenter said the newly minted knot at the top of the league won’t change the program’s approach. Instead, the Prosper head coach will look for a continued focus on the workmanlike, day-to-day approach of his group.
In the opposite dugout, however, the Wolves know it will take a full-out sprint to the finish to earn their second consecutive postseason berth.
“Just catch fire and make it happen,” Clark said. “Have energy every day. That’s how you claw back in when you dig yourself a hole. ... The whole season’s on the line, at this point, so come out with intensity, treat everything like a game and let that translate into the actual district games.”
The teams will close out their 9-6A series at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Plano West.
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