One step beyond
Hits come at a premium in the dog days of summer.
However, with 58 hits in its last two series, Thorndale has turned each at bat into a refresher course.
The Bulldogs pulled out the whipping sticks and dispatched Falls City in earnest on a blistering Saturday afternoon, collecting 20 hits in a 21-3 rout at Unicorn Field.
The Bulldogs took the first game 5-4 Thursday in LaGrange in the Class A, Region IV semifi- nals series.
"We have been hitting the ball well lately," said Thorndale Coach Kelly Kuhl, who, in his third year as coach, is trying to guide the Bulldogs to the state tournament for the second time. "We have really emphasized hitting the ball to the opposite field. I tell our kids to hit the ball to rightcenter and it will go where you want it to go."
No. 6 Thorndale (25-7) advances to the regional finals against old friend and No. 7 D'Hanis (21-7) which disposed of another old friend, Shiner, 5-4, 4-3, in the other semifinals matchup.
The second game will be played Saturday at Wolfe Stadium (home of the San Antonio Missions) in San Antonio beginning at 2 p.m. If necessary, a third game will follow.
The state tournament is set for Wednesday, June 10 and the Class A semifinals are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Dell Diamond in Round Rock. The Class A state championship will be played at 10 a.m. on Thursday.
When it comes to the baseball diamond, Thorndale and D'Hanis are more than a little familiar with each other.
The Bulldogs bested D'Hanis 8-5 on March 17 (spring break), coincidentally, at Wolfe Stadium. Pounders was the winning pitcher in that game after allowing seven hits. Shea Maupin was 2-for-3 with 4 RBI.
The Cowboys are led by pitchers Kaleb Keith (8-1) and Anthony Guerra (7-2).
D'Hanis has made five appearances at the state tournament (the last time in 2003), winning it all in 1995, the year before Thorndale won its first title.
Feasting on Falls City senior lef t hander Clay ton Camber, Thorndale had already crossed the plate five times before most people were settled in their seats Saturday with the first five batters banging out four hits to open the game.
The run was highlighted by Tyler Jordan's grand slam home run that easily cleared the 320foot left field fence and is probably still circling the New Braunfels skyline.
The Bulldogs were far from through as Joe Salinas ripped a triple behind Jordan, followed by Tyler Pounders' double, Weston Fisher and Travis Stockton's RBI singles to provide a 6-0 lead after one frame.
Thorndale was at it again in the third, sending nine batters to the plate to produce six more runs and a 12-1 advantage.
While the Bulldogs took advantage of three wild pitches to score four runs, Calvin Tomancak's two-run double was the big blow in the inning.
Still not satisfied, Thorndale marched 13 batters to the plate in the fourth, this time producing eight runs and a 21-3 final score.
Five different Bulldogs drove in runs in the inning, including Tyler Jordan's double for his fifth and sixth RBI of the afternoon.
Salinas singled in two runs, Pounders, Shea Maupin and pinch hitter Josh Vasquez singled in a run each.
Josh Ware had two singles in the inning.
Thorndale batted around in three of its four at bats.
Tyler Jordan finished 3-for-4 with six runs batted in.
Maupin continues to see the ball well in the playoffs, going 4-for-4 with two runs batted in and four runs scored.
That, after coming off a 4-for-5 performance against Ganado.
Pounders was 3-for-3 w ith a pair of runs batted in, while Fisher was 3-for-4 with two runs batted in as well.
Paxton Jordan logged the win after replacing starter Salinas in the third.
Despite the fact that it was only a five inning game, the Bulldogs time consuming at bats turned the contest into a 2-hour and 15- minute affair.
The Bulldogs relied heavily on Pounders to win the first game 5-4, as the big left hander picked up the victory after fanning a career-high 12 batters while also pounding out three hits.
"The thing that I have been impressed with so far has been our defense," Kuhl said. "We made a lot of errors early on, and we have started to play better defense here in the playoffs."
Thorndale 21, Falls City 3
Falls City 010 20— 3 7 3
Thorndale 616 8X—21 20 0
Camber, Gawlik (3), Brysch (4) and Johnson; Salinas, Jordan, P. (3), Tomancak (5) and Jordan. W-Jordan. L-Camber. 2B-Pounders, Tomancek, Fisher, Jordan (T),Houdmann, Gawlik (FC). 3B-Salinas (T). HR-Jordan (T). Records—Thorndale 25-7, Falls City 14-8. T-2:15.
Thorndale 5, Falls City 4
Thorndale 020 110 1—5 11 2
Falls City 102 000 1—4 8 0
W-Pounders (6-3). L-Johnson.