COPPELL – Coppell senior Will Rodman wasn’t about to be denied his third straight complete-game shutout.
However, in order to accomplish that feat, he had to overcome one final test by Denton Guyer’s offense.
Down to their final out, the Wildcats loaded the bases after pinch-hitter Landon Jeter drew a walk in the top of the seventh of Thursday’s playoff opener. Jeter’s walk came after Garrison Brandt drew a lead-off walk – the first one issued by Rodman all game – and Carson Parham lined a single.
But, like he did all evening, Rodman found a way to work around any scoring threats by Guyer. The senior right-hander stomped his foot on the mound and pumped his fist after he struck out Cole Sefcik to secure a 2-0 victory for the Cowboys over the Wildcats during Game 1 of a Class 6A bi-district best-of-three series at Coppell ISD Sports Complex.
“I was put in a tough situation,” Rodman said. “A few walks are never acceptable. It just feels good, but my catcher Bradley (Castillo) had a hell of a game. He was calling the right pitches in the right spots. He came up clutch for us and got a few hits for us. He’s special. He’s the reason why we came out on top tonight.
“It feels good to go up one game, especially with us going to their place tomorrow. But we feel good. We came out with a big win. We’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
Rodman was sharp from the get-go, striking out Guyer’s Jacob Byrd on four pitches during the game’s first at-bat. He only got stronger from there, finishing with 12 strikeouts, including four straight punch-outs from the fifth inning through the first Wildcat batter that he faced in the top of the sixth.
“He’s been special for us all year,” said Ryan Howard, Coppell head coach. “It’s very hard to be as consistently sharp as he is, day-in and day-out, start in, start out. That’s what I’ve been most impressed with about him. For his ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes whenever he wanted to, it makes it tough on any hitter.”
Rodman notched the victory despite getting little run support. Guyer actually out-hit Coppell 5-4 but the Wildcats could never manufacture more than one hit in an inning. It’s a formula that has become commonplace for the Cowboys this season: Rely on good pitching and string together a few timely hits to win a game. Thursday marked the sixth time this season that Coppell has won a game in which it scored no more than four runs.
All of the offense that Coppell (25-7-1), ranked No. 9 in the latest Diamond Pro/THSH 6A Top 25 Poll, needed on Thursday came courtesy of senior Chayton Krauss.
Guyer starter Parker Loser matched Rodman’s on the mound and allowed just one run through the game’s first five innings, but it was a costly one. Krauss skied a long single off the left field wall in the bottom of the third, scoring sophomore TJ Pompey, who drew a walk, to give Coppell a 1-0 lead.
Coppell added an insurance run in the sixth inning.
The Cowboys chased Loser out of the game after junior Walker Polk launched a triple off the right-field wall to lead off the frame. Sophomore Bradley Castillo hit a triple of his own over Parham’s glove in right field to give Coppell some breathing room.
“That’s a huge at-bat for us,” Howard said of Polk’s triple. “He had a couple of strikes on him, fouled away a few strikes that were tough pitches and was able to put a barrel on a ball for us. That was a huge run for us. It was a big at-bat for us. That was a mature Division 1 hitter right there that’s able to do that.”