Tiger playoff possibilities evaporating fast
The Rockdale Tiger baseball team has exhausted all its mulligans as far as the playoffs go and now face a must-win on the road Friday.
They also need a little help from the team that just put them in that position— Caldwell.
Caldwell must defeat Smithville (10-9, 4-5)—which lost 7- 0 to LaGrange on Tuesday—at home Friday to give the Tigers (15-11, 3-6) a chance.
A Smithville loss, coupled with a more important Rockdale victory at last-place Navasota on Friday, creates a third place tie between Rockdale and Smithville and since the two teams split their season series, it would force a playoff.
The Tigers are aiming for their first playoff trip since 2009.
Rockdale was clipped by Caldwell 3-2 Tuesday night at Tiger Field, forcing the final game dramatics.
Hornet hurlers Cody Vasquez and Blaine Suehs handcuffed the Tiger lineup, racking up 10 strikeouts on top of allowing just two hits.
Rockdale’s t wo r uns came without benefit of a run batted in, crossing the plate on a wild pitch and a fielder’s choice.
The Tigers had a chance to grab the lead in the fifth, but wasted a triple from Ethan Brinkley.
After Rockdale opened the first with a run as Dillon Goodman scored on a wild pitch, Caldwell scored twice after a Tiger error.
The Hornets collected the game winner in the sixth when ninehole hitter Dylan Drgac slapped a single to center to score Jake Payonk who led off the inning with a single to left.
Brinkley (3-2) absorbed the loss, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out three batters.
The Tigers jumped out quickly 8-2, but then had to hold on after surrendering six runs late for a critical 10-8 victory over Giddings (5-12, 2-6) on the road.
“Offensively it was a great night for us,” said Rockdale Coach Clay Cox. The wind was at our backs and we were driving the baseball.”
Cox moved some players around in the batting order and it proved positive, as the Tigers hammered out four home runs and three doubles among 10 hits.
“We took advantage of both Giddings pitchers when they left the ball up in the zone,” said Cox. “Dillon Goodman had another great night. He is hitting over .500 in district and has been our offensive spark plug.”
Batting in the leadoff spot, Goodman triggered the Tigers, going 3-for-4 with a home run and a pair of runs batted in.
Kirk blasted a three-run home run, while John Stewart clubbed two doubles that produced two runs from cleanup.
Clayton Gibbs and Cody Skubal accounted for the final two Rockdale home runs.
With the exception of Skubal, everyone else was logging their first home run of the season.
In his first varsity appearance, freshman Pearce Loth turned in a sparkling relief performance.
Entering the game in the seventh and with the Tigers clinging to a two-run lead, the 6-foot-3 rookie held the Buffaloes down, including striking out the first batter he faced, their top hitter Mason Becker.
“The original plan with Pearce was to bring him in to close it down with hopefully a four or five run lead... that wasn’t the case,” Cox said. “He came in for his first true varsity appearance on the mound with a two run lead in a must win game against the heart of their order.
“He showed a lot of confidence striking out Becker, their big stick, to start. We played some solid defense behind him and he got his first varsity win. I was proud of the way he handled himself out there.”
Loth replaced star ter Tate Pounders, who surrendered eight runs on only four hits, including a three-run home run by Jacob Satterfield to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth.
He struck out seven and walked six.
“Tate gave us five great innings,” said Cox. “We had a couple of mental lapses in the sixth and then left a ball up in the zone that Satterfield got a hold of to tie the game.”
After Giddings played catch up in a hurry in the sixth with six and tying the game at 8-all, the Tigers responded quickly with a pair of runs in the seventh.
“One of the biggest positives of the night was watching our guys fight to score a couple in the top of the seventh,” Cox said. “After we had just given up a six-run lead and been silenced for the past three innings. We found a way to plate a couple of runs, get three outs in the bottom of the seventh and keep our playoff hopes alive.”
|Rockdle||2;||Giddings 6,||Navasota 5;|
HITTING— Brinkley 25 - 65 .385; Goodman 30-82 .366; Ehler 16-44 .364; Stewart 20-61 .328; Schneider 11-34 .324; Skubal 20-66 .303; Kirk 16-53 .302; Pounders 19- 65 .292; Gibbs 19 - 66 .288; Garza 10 - 36 .278; Caffey 13-59 .220; McCartney 2-10 .200. Runs—Goodman 20, Brinkley 18 RBI—Brinkley 20, Pounders 16 2B—Brinkley 4, Skubal 4 3B—Gibbs 3, Stewart 2 HR—Pounders 1, Stewart 1 SB—Gibbs 12, Brinkley 10 Pitching—Loth 1- 0, 0.00; Pounders 4-1 3.00; Brinkley 3-2 3.09; Skubal 2-1 5.68; Schneider 2-2 6.65; Stewart 2-2 5.50; Gibbs 1-2 4.50.