Gibbs was finally rewarded for his stellar pitching performance when his teammates scratched out four runs in their final two at bats and Coach Jarad Richards received his second straight sparkling gem from one of his pitchers as the Tigers hung around long enough to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with a 4-3 come-from behind victory over Caldwell Friday night at Tiger Field.
The Tigers are all alone at 4-0 in District 24-3A and the only team remaining without a blemish on their loop ledger.
With a 10-9 win over Thorn- dale Tuesday, Rockdale improved to 10-5 on the season and have now won seven in a row.
“Yeah, Brandon threw really well after the first inning,” Richards said. “He competed really well despite not having our best defensive performance behind him, but we still made the plays when we needed to and the bats finally woke up in the sixth and seventh.
“We just found a way to win— good teams do that.”
Thanks to the two errors—both with two outs—Gibbs (2-1) did not allow an earned run while striking out six batters and scattering six hits. Of the 96 pitches the senior righthander threw, 61 crossed the play as strikes.
While shouldering a 2-0 deficit, Gibbs retired 13-of-14 batters between the second and seventh innings, allowing a double with two outs in the seventh.
The Tigers were coming off another complete game win by Justin Elliott against Bryan Rudder.
“We’re fired up to be 4-0 and hopefully we’ll finish out the first round of district as strong as we started,” said Richards.” The rest of the district is really messing things up with crazy outcomes. Hopefully we’ll just keep winning and stay out of that mess.”
There are however, two critical games on the immediate horizon: at Taylor on Saturday and then at Cameron next Tuesday.
After the mini road trip, the Tigers play five of their last seven games at home.
After Gibbs retired the first two batters of the game, shortstop Hector Garcia could not come up with a ground ball and the Hornets took full advantage as Cody Spittler doubled to score Travis Muzny who had reached on the error to make it 1-0.
Cody Vasquez then singled home Cumby for a 2-0 lead.
Rockdale touched Caldwell starter D.J. Cumby for five hits, but only one through the first five innings.
But Cumby also suffered as the Hornets committed three errors behind him, including two in the sixth when Rockdale tied the game.
With precious few at bats remaining, Tiger bats came alive in the sixth as J. B. Debault opened the inning with a single and after Dillan Schnerr reached on a fielder’s choice and Justin Elliott on an error, Cody Burrough dropped in a single down the rightfield line to plate Schnerr and then Elliott scored on a throwing error by third baseman Matt Mueller on a Gibbs grounder to knot the score at 2-2.
After Gibbs retired the first two batters in the seventh, leadoff hitter Luis Martinez clubbed a double to left field and scored on a throwing error for a 3-2 lead with three outs to go.
After Duke Schneider f lew out to open the bottom of the seventh, Rockdale leadoff batter Greg Chelf slapped a single up the middle, followed by Debault’s second single of the evening.
After Chelf tied the game at 3-3 on a wild pitch, Vasquez replaced starter Cumby and immediately walked Sanders which brought Schnerr to the plate who calmly ripped a single to left to score Debault with the winning run.
Sophomore centerfielder Vasquez topped Caldwell with a pair of singles and an RBI.
Taking a break from the league schedule, but wanting to stay sharp, Rockdale hosted neighbor and Class A power Thorndale Tuesday and when these two teams meet it’s usually a highscoring affair.
They did not disappoint as it took Casey Burrough laying down a perfectly executed bunt to score Chelf in the bottom of the 10th inning and allow the Tigers to walk away with a 10-9 victory.
Both teams scored their runs in flurries as Rockdale jumped out 5-1, only to find themselves trailing 9-5 before rallying to tie the score 9-9 in the sixth and force a stalemate until the 10th inning.
It was obvious Richards was going to use the off-night to work in as many players as he could, witness his use of five pitchers, not including Chelf who worked the mound on two different occasions and came back in the ninth to pick up the win, his team-leading fifth of the year. He threw just 25 pitches.
Sanders delivered three runs batted in on the evening on a double and a bases loaded walk, while Schnerr drove in two runs on a single in the fourth. He added a double in the 10th.
Calvin Tomancak, Shea Maupin and Tyler Miller notched two hits apiece for the No. 3 ranked Bulldogs as seven different Bulldogs registered an RBI.
Maupin absorbed the loss in relief of Caleb Saunders in 5 1/3 innings of work, striking out four and allowing six hits on 100 pitches.
FINAL Team District Overall Rockdale 4-0 9-5 Bryan Rudder 4-1 15-3 Cameron 2-1 8-8 Taylor 3-2 12-6 Navasota 1-2 8-4 Madisonville 0-3 1-11 Caldwell 0-4 2-4
Tuesday’s scores—Rockdale 10, Thorndale 9; Taylor 6, Caldwelll 5; Rudder 15, Madisonville 0.
Friday’s scores—Rockdale 4, Caldwell 3; Taylor 4, Navasota 1; Bryan Rudder 16, Cameron 4;
TIGER BASEBALL STATISTICS
Hitting (at bats-hits-avg)— Schnerr 26-50 .520; Sanders 12-31 .387; Debault 9-26 .346; Schneider 8-27 .296; Garcia 10-36 .277; Byrd 2-7 .285; Burrough 5-22 .227; Chelf 6-30 .200; Young 3-16 .187; Elliott 5-34 .147; Betchan 2-12 .166; Gibbs 3-34 .088; Davidson 0-6 .000; Pounders 0-3 .000; Evans 0-2 .000; Locklin 0-2 .000; Herrera 0-0 .000. Runs—Sanders 20, Debault 16. Doubles—Schnerr 5, Schneider 3. Triples—Sanders 3, Schneider 1. Home runs—Schnerr 1, Sanders 1. RBI—Schnerr 22, Sanders 20. Steals—Sanders 6, Burrough 3. Pitching—Chelf 5-1, 3.10; Gibbs 2-1; Pounders 1-0, 0.00; Elliott 2-2, 8.08; Schneider 0-1, 9.13.