Tony Vernars

The season for Tony Vernars and the Coppell baseball team ended Saturday.

DENTON – One day after the Coppell baseball team rallied from a four-run deficit to top Keller in Game 2, the Cowboys looked to dig into the well to pull off the same type of magic in Game 3 on Saturday.

Unfortunately for Coppell, the Cowboys were forced to play from behind for the second straight day. This time around, Coppell was unable to overcome a slow start.

The Indians jumped out to a quick three-run lead in the first inning, and coupled with Coppell’s inability to generate a timely with runners on base, the Cowboys’ season ended with a 7-1 loss at The Ballpark at Denton Guyer.

Coppell senior Chayton Krauss made his first pitching start in three weeks after an illness kept him out of the area round against Dallas Jesuit. He returned to action the next week against Prosper abut played in different roles as Cowboy seniors Will Rodman and Tim Malone handled the pitching duties in that series.

Keller didn’t waste any time getting going in a win-or-home game. The Indians scored three times in the bottom of the first to take a 3-0 lead and forced Krauss to throw 33 pitches.

Gray Rowlett singled through the right side to put Keller on the board. Braden Davis lined an opposite-field single of his own to score Rowlett for a 2-0 Indian advantage. Keller used some aggressive base running in the process. Griffin Barton and Rowlett both stole second base and later came around to score their respective runs.

A sacrifice fly by Clayton Thomas plated the third run of the frame for Keller for a 3-0 advantage. Coppell senior left fielder Ryan Walker made a diving catch on the play and saved extra bases for Keller.

Krauss settled down and found his command in the second inning. He allowed just one run over the next three innings, and for the game, finished with four strikeouts against six hits and four earned runs.

“Nobody knows what Chayton has been through for the past month,” said Ryan Howard, Coppell head coach. “It’s for a reason, but Chayton is a very mentally tough, very physically tough kid. He’s our MVP. He’s our district MVP. It was great to have him to be able to go out there and compete for us today.”

Coppell had a nice scoring threat of its own brewing in the very next inning. David Jeon, who was the hero in Game 2 with a three-run home run, and Walker Polk drew consecutive walks, followed by a single through the right side by Rodman to load the bases with zero outs.

The Cowboys couldn’t cash in on the scoring opportunity.

Keller pitcher Braden Davis responded by inducing an infield fly out followed by back-to-back strikeouts as Coppell was held off the scoreboard.

It was the theme of the day for the Cowboys. Coppell had at least one base runner in four different innings but was unable to get a timely hit.

The only run of the game for Coppell came coQurtesy of a failed pickoff attempt by Keller in the top of the fourth.

Carter Fields was on his way to second base but the Indians appeared to have him caught in a rundown. However, Rodman trotted down the third-base line to score and Fields made it safely back into first base.

Rodman’s run cut the Coppell deficit to 3-1.

“It all comes down to the big hit with guys in scoring position,” Howard said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get it today and time ran out on us.”

That was as close as the Cowboys got.

Keller got a sacrifice fly from Todd Baffa in the home half of the fourth to restore its three-run lead.

One inning later in the fifth, the Indians blew the game wide open. Thomas crushed a three-run home run over the left field wall for a 7-1 Keller lead. It was the fourth home run hit by the Indians this series.

Keller (33-6) advances to the Region 1-6A final where it will face District 4-6A nemesis and two-time defending state champion Southlake Carroll (28-16).

Coppell finishes with a record of 31-9-1. The Cowboys finished in second place in District 6-6A and advanced to the fourth round of the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

“I’m so proud of this group of guys,” Howard said. “Just coming in with a brand-new head coach two years ago and missing their junior year with the pandemic, especially those seniors, and bouncing back with this effort and their toughness and just brushing through adversity, I’m proud of them.”

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