For whom the Dell tolls, it tolls for T
At the conclusion of last season, the Bulldogs were sent home with their tails between their legs after being run-ruled out of the playoffs in the very first game by Shiner.
Flash forward one year and a resurgent Thorndale baseball team is primed and in position to bring home the school's eighth team state championship trophy.
The Bulldogs swept their third straight opponent out of the playoffs, this time staving off D'Hanis 3-2 Saturday at Wolfe Stadium to earn a trip to the UIL Class A state baseball tournament.
Thorndale captured the first game 5-4 Thursday in College Station.
The 27-8 Bulldogs will tangle with Windthorst (32-8) in the second semifinals contest at 1 p.m.
Overton (28-5) and Miles (17-9) will face off in the first semifinal at 10 a.m.
The Class A championship game is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m.
The Bulldogs are returning to the state tournament for the fourth time in the past five years, last taking the crown in 2005 to accompany their 1996 title.
However, the state tournament has not been kind to the Bulldogs in their past two appearances since the championship, having been sent packing in the semifinals 3-0 by New Deal in 2007 and being run-ruled 11-1 by eventual champion Anderson-Shiro in 2006, again in the semifinals.
In both games, the Bulldogs blanked out on offense, managing just two meager singles against New Deal and five safeties versus Anderson-Shiro.
Seniors Tyler Pounders and Joe Salinas were on that '07 team in Kelly Kuhl's first season and the coach uses them as inspirational tools.
"We didn't get off to a very good start in our last practice, so I asked the team to ask those two guys if they like the taste left in their mouths from the last time we were there," he said. "I certainly don't want that taste again."
Just as they did in 2006 when they won 23 straight to reach state, the Bulldogs are roaring into this year's tournament, unbeaten in the playoffs at 8-0.
"The kids just get along, not like a lot of teams I've been around. On the field and off the field.
"I just got a text message and it goes to every player on the team. It said, 'We just had our last practice as seniors, now let's get after it. We deserve to win it all.'"
Thorndale doesn't have a dominate bell cow when it comes to pitching, but the Bulldogs' scorching bats and slick fielding have been a commodity they can rely on.
"I told Coach Lindemann we're never completely out of a game because of our hitting and defense.
"I preach pitching and defense and our kids just love to hit so we just meet somewhere in the middle."
In four playoff games against Ganado and Falls City, the Bulldogs banged out 58 hits.
Kuhl hopes that trend will continue and the team will approach the semifinals as just another game.
"I want the kids to be perfect. Never be satisfied."
NOTEWORTHY—Wind- thorst last made an appearance in the final four in 2003 and has made five altogether, but have never made it past the semifinal round.
Miles made it in 2001 and Overton is making its first trip.
In the Region IV finals clincher, the Bulldogs were rewarded with a sparkling pitching performance by Calvin Tomancak in his first start of the season.
The Bulldogs also took advantage of a couple of Cowboy miseight cues, producing the winning run in the fourth inning when Tyler Jordan scampered home on a passed ball to make it 3-2.
D'Hanis (21-8) had a chance to manufacture some runs in the first inning after Chris Alavrez and Lee Lopez opened the frame with back-to-back singles, but Alvarez slid past third base and was tagged out.
Tomancak retired the next two batters to snuff out any threat.
Paxton Jordan pushed the Bulldogs ahead 2-0 in the third with a solo home run into a crosswind.
Thorndale handed Cowboy freshman ace Kaleb Keith just his second loss of the season against wins.
He allowed just four hits through four innings, but the Bulldogs still scratched out three runs.
While Tomancak gave the Bulldogs a chance to win, they got another superb performance on the mound from Tyler Pounders, the 5-4 first game victory at Olsen Field in College Station.
Pounders complete game effort allowed the Bulldogs to have their entire staff available for the next day's game.
Pounders, who struck out five, allowed 10 hits with four of those coming in the seventh inning when D'Hanis rallied for two runs to close the gap to 5-4.
"Tyler has been our horse all year," Kuhl said. "So we were going to ride him as far as we could ride him."
It took just one inning for Thorndale to cross the plate enough times to win as the Bulldogs used five hits in the fourth to leap out to a 5-1 lead.
Weston Fisher provided the biggest hit in the inning, singling home two runs.
Shea Maupin and Tyler Jordan logged RBI singles in the inning, while Joe Salinas' sacrifice fly added another run.
Thorndale 3, D'Hanis 2
Thorndale 101 100 0—3 9 0
D'Hanis 000 110 0—2 7 0
Jordan and Tomancak; Bermea
and Keith. W-Tomancak (2-
1). L-Keith (8-2). HR-Jordan (T).
Records—Thorndale 27-8, D'Hanis
Thorndale 5, D'Hanis 4
D'Hanis 001 010 2—4 10 3
Thorndale 000 500 X—5 7 0
Bermea and Guerra; Jordan and
Pounders. W-Pounders (7-3). LGuerra.
Thorndale was scheduled to play in the UIL state baseball tournament semifinals on Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Dell Diamond and if the Bulldogs won, they would then play in the championship game on Thursday at 10 a.m. which is past the Reporter's deadline. However, you can keep up with all the updated action on Rockdale Reporter.com and then of course a full report in next week's paper.—BM