Not long after Dallas Baptist senior catcher Christian Boulware hit a bases-clearing double to give the Patriots a one-run lead over No. 6 TCU in the Fort Worth regional of the NCAA Division 1 baseball tournament, his mother, Laura, received a phone call from former Lake Dallas head baseball coach John Tompkins.
Tompkins told Laura that he was jumping for joy after watching Boulware’s hit on TV.
It was the same kind of excitement that Tompkins felt when Lake Dallas had a walk-off hit to send the Falcons into the next round of the playoffs during Boulware’s senior season in 2016. The end to the postseason game got Tompkins so excited that Boulware said that Tompkins suffered a leg injury.
Boulware said that he and Tompkins still share laughs about the scar that is on his leg as the result of the injury.
And, it was a piece of advice that Tompkins gave Boulware, a four-time all-district selection during his prep career, between the end of his senior season at Lake Dallas and his freshman season in college that helped to prepare him for the three-run double against TCU.
Before Boulware headed off to Panola College, located in Carthage, Tompkins reminded Boulware of a couple of tips to live by every time that he stepped into the batter’s box: to live in the moment and to enjoy the journey.
“He's one of the best coaches that I've ever had,” Boulware said. “Obviously, I wouldn't be here without him. He's had a huge impact on me. I know that I can go back to him and he'll always help me out.”
It was advice that Boulware heeded during his at-bat in the seventh inning of a June 5 game for Dallas Baptist against TCU.
After going ahead in the count 2-0, Boulware expected the next pitch to be a fastball. Indeed, it was a fastball. Boulware hit the ball into the outfield. Three runs scored on the play. It was all part of a five-run inning for the Patriots, who took a 7-6 lead after trailing 6-2. Dallas Baptist won the game, 8-6.
“In the dugout, everybody was going crazy,” Boulware said. “Just that moment, I'll never forget it. What I was feeling inside was unbelievable."
A large and jovial crowd made the short drive to Fort Worth to support Boulware and his Patriots teammates at Lupton Field, including several of his teammates from Lake Dallas’ 2016 baseball team.
Playing in front of more than 5,000 fans against the sixth-ranked team in the country was a great feeling for Boulware, he said.
It was an experience that didn’t come without making some sacrifices along the way.
Coming out of high school, the only offer that Boulware had was from Panola College. No Division I, II or III colleges had provided an offer to him. Not even another junior college.
Following a two-year career at Panola College, where he hit a total of 31 home runs, including breaking the school’s single-season record with 19 in his sophomore season in 2018, Boulware said that playing junior college baseball was the best thing that could have happened to him at the time.
"That's where I'm at my best, honestly, basically with my back against the wall when people doubted me,” he said. “It makes me want to get better. That's where that toughness has come from, was JUCO. It gave me the fuel to do that. JUCO definitely breeds toughness and our coaches did. That's what was the big flip in my career."
Fast-forward to last weekend and Boulware provided one of several key hits for a Dallas Baptist team that has advanced to the super regionals for just the second time in program history. Andrew Benefield hit a grand slam to key an incredible 8-5 come-from-behind win against Oregon State in the regional final – a game that the Beavers led 5-0 in the third inning.
“That was one of the coolest things that I have ever been a part of,” Boulware said. "Just being able to bounce back like after losing on a walk-off the previous day, it's absolutely crazy. That sets a huge going into the super regional. Everyone is fired up. It definitely gives us that belief that we can do it. We belong in that situation."
Dallas Baptist (40-16) plays Virginia in the Columbia, S.C., super regional, from Saturday-Monday. The winner of that series advances to the College World Series.