Tigers break out whipping sticks right on time
The Tigers enter District 23- 3A play having already smashed last year’s win total (7) with 12 victories and are comingoffaspringbreak stretch where they won four out of five games in four days.
Looking for their first playoff appearance since 2009 and only their second since 2000 Rockdale has reeled off 10 wins in its last 11 games.
In other words, Rockdale is red hot.
Five games, four days
After going eight days without facing any opposition, the Tigers got to work in earnest, playing five games in four days and went 4-1, including a victory over No. 18 Liberty Hill on the road.
“After eight days of no games, and little practice, then the long drive to Llano, you are worried about being rusty,” first-year Coach Clay Cox said. “We came out and never missed a beat putting up 14 runs which is our highest output of the season.”
The Tigers banged out 10 hits in the 14-3 vicrory over Llano in the first leg of the road trip.
Cody Skubal controlled the game on the hill and at the plate.
The senior went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs batted in, while also logging his second win of the season by striking out nine batters and allowing just a pair of hits in five innings of work.
Rockdale then defeated No. 18LibertyHill6- 4ineight innings.
On the road against a top 20 team and down to their last strike in the seventh, the Tigers got a clutch hit from Ehler to tie the game up at four.
Stewart was huge coming in and getting three straight in the bottom of the seventh in relief of starter Pounders (3-0, 1.29 ERA), then smacking a two-run blast in the top of the eighth to provide the winning margin with his first home run of the season.
Freshmen Dylan McCartney, who was moved to second base due to an injury to Clayton Gibbs, came up with an outstanding 4-3 double play to end the game in the bottom of the eighth.
“It was great to see the fight in our guys on the road, and to have multiple guys come up with big plays in the clutch,” Cox said.
Along with Stewart (2-for-5, 2 RBI), Pounders was 3-for-3 with a double and Brinkley went 2-for- 5 with an RBI.
Rockdale split a double header with Madisonville 11-9, 1-10.
After allowing three runs in the first inning in the loss, Rockdale was able to take an 8-3 lead. However, five errors allowed Madisonville to crawl back into the game.
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Goodman was 2-for-4 with four runs batted in with a double as the Tigers clubbed four doubles on the afternoon (Goodman, Schneider, Austin Caffey, Zach Garza).
Stewart (2-2) suffered the loss in relief, allowing three runs and three hits in the seventh inning, while also fanning three batters.
In the opener of the double header, Brinkley (2-0) turned in a complete game victory, allowing just two hits and two walks while recording four strikeouts.
Gibbs was 3-for-3 with three runs batted in and three runs scored while ripping a double and a triple as Rockdale jumped out 10-0 by the third inning.
Pounders was 2- for- 2 w ith three runs batted in.
Rockdale capped the spring break sweep with a 14-5 victory over Hempstead.
“It was good to see the guys come out with confidence after the second Madisonville game and rebound with a big win over a 9-2 Hempstead team,” said Cox.
The Tigers led 11-2 after three innings on the strength of a sixrun first.
Stewart fueled the 14- hit attack, going 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles, while Goodman was 3-for-5 with two doubles.
Pounders knocked in three runs, while Gibbs (double), Brinkley (.450), Skubal and Ehler each brought home two runs apiece.
Schneider (2-1) picked up the win with five innings of work and six strikeouts.
“All six of our pitchers got work this week—Brinkley, Gibbs, Pounders, Skubal and Schneider each got a start,” Cox said. “Stewart had three relief appearances. That was one of our main goals for these games is to give each guy a game.”
Delving into District 23-3A play, the Tigers had the best pre-district record, followed by LaGrange’s 10-3, which has won four straight.
The Leopards are ranked No. 10 in Class 3A polls.
The remaining four squads have struggled to remain above .500 with Caldwell at 7-7, Smithville at 6-4, Navasota 3-4 and last season’s district champs Giddings at 3-6, which returned the least number of returning starters in the district with four.
Hitter of the week
The web site 3abaseball.com selects a Hitter of the Week, each week sponsored by swingb uilder.com. and this week Rockdale’s Tate Pounders was selected as the March 12- 18 “Hitter of the Week”.
“( This is a) big honor for him, he had a great week at the plate,” Cox said.
The senior went 9-for-13 (.692) with 10 runs batted in, seven walks, six runs, three doubles and a home run for 47 total bases.
His on-base percentage was .818 and slugging percentage was an impressive 1.154.
Hitting—Brinkley 18-40 .450; Ehler 13-33 .394; Pounders 15-41 .366; Skubal 15-45 .333; Schneider 5-15 .333; Stewart 14-43 .326; Goodman 17-55 .309; Gibbs 14-47 .298; Garza 7-25 .280; Kirk 9-35 .257; Caffey 9- 39 .231; McCartney 2-9 .222. Runs—Goodman 19, Brinkley 18 RBI–Brinkley 15, Pounders 15 2B—Brinkley 4, Skubal 4 3B—Gibbs 3, Stewart 2 HR–Pounders 1, Stewart 1 SB—Gibbs 12, Brinkley 10 Pitching—Pounders 3-0 1.29; Brinkley 2- 0 3.32; Skubal 2- 0 3.60; Schneider 2-1 5.29; Stewart 2-2 3.71; Gibbs 1-1 4.05.