DALLAS – To accumulate seven hits and no runs in a best-of-three playoff series can be a cause of frustration for some high school baseball coaches. But given the quality of arms on the roster for Southlake Carroll, Coppell head coach Ryan Howard offered a tip of the cap to Dragon senior left-handers Owen Proksch and Griffin Herring.
The two Division I signees delivered for Carroll.
In Thursday’s Game 1, Proksch, a Duke pledge, allowed a total of three hits with 11 strikeouts in a 4-0 win for Carroll. On Friday, Herring, an LSU pledge, gave up three hits with 10 strikeouts in six shutout innings in a 6-0 Dragons win at Dallas Baptist University’s Horner Ballpark in Game 2 of a Region I-6A semifinal series.
Herring set the tone on a dominant night on the mound with three straight strikeouts to begin the action. He allowed just two base runners through the first four innings – a walk apiece to Coppell junior Tanner Sever and senior Landry Fee. The Cowboys didn’t register their first hit on Friday until senior Will Boylan hit a bloop single into left field with one out in the fifth.
“You’ve got your tip your cap to what Southlake’s pitchers were doing,” Howard said. “Those kids are Division I, Power Five conference pitchers for a reason, and they were great. They showed up, and that’s why Southlake is Southlake. It was too bad for us. Those guys were tough to hit.”
By that time in the ballgame, Carroll had already built a commanding 6-0 lead.
Max Reyes hit a high hopper that bounced just over the head of Coppell sophomore shortstop Michael Russell and into left field for an RBI hit and a 1-0 Carroll lead in the top of the first.
Both starting pitchers endured a tight strike zone. Coppell junior right-hander TJ Pompey did his best to work through it, but he lasted just 1.2 innings after giving up four walks – some on close calls – and five runs.
“TJ is the MVP of our team this year,” Howard said. “He’s a big reason why we’re here. I thought that there were some pitches early on to figure out what the zone was going to look like. He didn’t get a few calls early and got behind in some counts. But that’s baseball. I’ll take that guy on the mound any day of the week.”
Senior Will Boylan entered in the second game. Although he was officially charged with just one run over 5.1 innings of effective relief, a big second inning for the Dragons proved too much for the Cowboys to overcome.
A defensive error to commence the second inning – a dropped fly ball in shallow left field – led to four runs for Carroll. Proksch drove in the first run of the frame on a bases-loaded walk. The next Dragon batter, Ethan Mendoza, hit an RBI sacrifice fly. Ben Tryon later continued his hot swinging of the bat with a two-run single to increase Carroll’s lead to 5-0.
Tryon finished the two-game series with four hits and five RBIs.
“No taking anything away from Southlake because they beat us, but it was just one of those series where it felt like we couldn’t catch a break,” Howard said. “We had some in-between grounders, and we had to make some tough decisions. They took advantage of it.”
Coppell’s biggest scoring threat came in the fifth. The Cowboys had the bases loaded with one out after singles by Boylan and Carter Fields and a walk issued to Pompey. However, a ground-ball out ended the threat.
Coppell ended its second 27-10-1. The Cowboys finished as a regional semifinalist for the second year in a row and earned the No. 1 seed in District 6-6A going into the postseason.
“I didn’t hear a lot of high expectations on this team early on,” Howard said. “But from the coaching staffing and within, we’ve always believed. It goes to a great senior class of leadership, and what they’ve been about.”