Cricket chirps at Cowboys
The senior righthander started both games Saturday in a mustwin doubleheader as Thorndale disposed of No. 10 D’Hanis 4-2 and then 13-1 in the nightcap to take the Region IV semifinals and remain alive in the Class A playoffs at Texas A&M’s Olsen Field.
The Bu l ldog s (23-11) now move on to tackle LaPryor (24- 6) which despite finishing second to D’Hanis in District 30A, is ranked seventh in the state. LaPryor edged Mart 1-0 in their one-game semifinal series.
D’Hanis defeated LaPryor two out of three times during the season, including a playoff for first place in district.
While the temperature hovered around 100 degrees all afternoon and reached a high of 102, the balmy weather seemed to fuel Saunders who threw 158 pitches and struck out 12 batters over the course of both games, including a complete game in game one.
Thorndale Coach Kelley Kuhl had no qualms about sending Saunders back out on the mound to start the second game.
“The longer he goes the better he is,” Kuhl said. “On the days he pitches, it takes him a long time to get warmed up in the bullpen before the game.
“He was in a groove and I talked to him between games and he was ready to keep going. These guys have complete confidence in him and when they see him out there busting his butt, they know they have to do their best because he is.”
When Saunders made his way back to the mound after the 30- minute break between games, the D’Hanis bench didn’t know what to think and Saunders received more than a few silent stares from Cowboys players.
A f ter grazing D’Hanis 4-2 in the first game of the double header, Thorndale was much more aggressive at the plate in the clincher, cracking 19 hits, including six for extra bases.
“They were really focused,” Kuhl said. “We worked really hard on hitting the past week and hitting a lot off the tee at practice. They didn’t want this to be it. They were determined to win two and keep playing, especially the four seniors.”
Two innings later, the Bulldogs put the game out of reach, by sending nine men to the plate and crossing the plate four more times for a 9-0 lead.
Thorndale chased D’Hanis starter Collin Braden in the inning after he allowed two singles to Ware and Tyler Jordan and after Paxton Jordan just missed out on jacking his second home run of the game after the ball hit the bottom of the left field fence and had to settle for a stand-up triple.
The Bulldogs added four more runs in the top of the seventh as with two outs, Trey Maupin cleared the 375-foot left centerfield fence with a two-run blast.
Eight of the nine hitters in the Thorndale lineup had at least two hits and all nine had at least one hit.
Leadoff hitter Ware (one double, two singles, four runs scored, two runs batted in) and Weston Fisher (three singles) led the barrage.
With his home run and triple, Paxton Jordan socked in four runs and Maupin three.
Maupin also pitched four innings of one-hit ball in relief of Saunders.
Coming off a 7-5 loss in which D’Hanis collected 13 hits, Saunders put the clamps on the Cowboy bats in the pivotal first game Saturday.
Saunders allowed three hits and fanned nine batters in the first game and key to the victory, handcuffed the top four hitters in the D’Hanis lineup who went one-for-12 and the one hit was a meaningless bunt single in the sixth inning.
Thorndale posted back-to-back two-run innings in the fourth and fifth innings to secure the win.
The Bulldogs took advantage of two of the Cowboys’ four errors in the fourth to push across two runs, and in the fifth, Calvin Tomancak singled home Tyler Jordan who had singled and Maupin knocked in Tomancak for a 4-0 lead.
D’Hanis pushed across two runs in the sixth on the strength of Kaleb Keith’s double.
Keith was the losing pitcher.
Saunders was aided by two outstanding running catches from outfielders Ware and Isaac Leyendecker on back-to-back plays to open the fifth.
Opener Thorndale could not hold on to an early lead and left eight base runners stranded in a 7-5 loss Thursday night at Burbank Stadium in the series opener.
Tyler Jordan spotted the Bulldogs an early lead after driving in three runs in the first two innings on a solo home run in the first and a two-run double in the second.
However, D’Hanis put up four runs in the third to grab a 5-3 lead, spurred by pitcher Ryan Goff’s three-run home run.
After Thorndale battled back to tie the contest with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, the Cowboys scored two of their own to secure a 7-5 lead.
The Bulldogs actually put two men on base in the top of the seventh when Maupin (3-for-4) singled and Leyendecker walked, but the two were left stranded to end the game.
Paxton Jordan (8-2) suffered just his second loss of the season on the mound for Thorndale.
Both teams banged out 13 hits.
DAWG BITES— Three of the top Class A teams were knocked out of the playoffs last weekend as No. 1 Overton was dumped by No. 9 Evadale. Defending Class A champion Miles was also removed from the bracket after falling to Stamford. Sixthranked Bosqueville also fell to Blue Ridge.... The door is wide open for No. 2 Cayuga to pull off an unprecedented trifecta— three state championships in one school year in football, basketball and baseball. Cayuga (24-2) is in the Region III finals against Evadale (27-5)... Thorndale and Windthorst (32-5) are the only teams left that were in the 2009 Class A state tournament.
Thorndale 13, D’Hanis 1 Thorndale 110 304 4–13 19 2 D’Hanis 000 000 1— 1 6 2
Jordan and Saunders, Maupin (4); Young and Braden, Guerra (6), Rothe (7). W-Saunders (7-3). L-Braden. 2B-Ware, Maupin (T), Alvarez (D). 3B-Jordan, P. (T). HRJordan, P., Maupin (T). Records— Thorndale 23-11, D’Hanis 24-9.
Thorndale 4, D’Hanis2 D’Hanis 000 002 0—2 3 4 Thorndale 000 220 x—4 6 1
Young and Keith; Jordan and Saunders. W-Saunders (6-3). LKeith. 2B-Jordan, T. (T), Keith (D). Records—Thorndale 22-11, D’Hanis 24-8.
D’Hanis 7, Thorndale 5 Thorndale 120 020 0—5 13 0 D’Hanis 104 020 X—7 13 1
Jordan and Jordan; Goff. W-Villa and Goff. L-Jordan 8-2. 2B-Jordan, T. HR-Jordan, T. Records—Thorndale 21-11, D’Hanis 24-7.