Hornets end up on top in old fashion pitching duel

Behind 20 steals, Tigers vanquish Vanguard Monday
BY BILL MARTIN
Reporter Sports Editor


Tiger shortstop Hayden Offield takes a throw from Austin Caffey to tag out Caldwell’s Dylan Drgac at second in the seventh inning. 
Reporter/Bill Martin Tiger shortstop Hayden Offield takes a throw from Austin Caffey to tag out Caldwell’s Dylan Drgac at second in the seventh inning. Reporter/Bill Martin Caldwell’s Tanner Luna had one more strikeout than Rockdale’s Ethan Brinkley.

And more importantly, Luna was also up by one over Brinkley in the run support department.

In a good, old fashioned pitching duel, the Hornets were able to eek out a 1-0 victory over the Tigers Thursday night at Tiger Ballpark.

After a victory over Waco Vanguard Monday night (see below), Rockdale stands 13- 9 on the season and 1-3 in District 18-3A.

No. 14 Caldwell maintains its lead in the league standings at 4-0, while posting a 15-3 overall mark.

With the first half of district play winding up on Friday, College (3-1) Station and Taylor (2-2) currently hold down the second and third playoff spots, while Rockdale is tied with Madisonville and Navasota at 1-3.


Tiger junior Austin Caffey has lined up behind the plate for 500 consecutive innings, that’s 82 straight games. Tiger junior Austin Caffey has lined up behind the plate for 500 consecutive innings, that’s 82 straight games. Luna and Brinkley were both razor sharp, with Luna—who has logged 46 strikeouts in 33 innings of work—sitting down 10 batters, while Brinkley—who has 56 strikeouts in 47 innings— fanned nine.

Luna—who did walk four batters— allowed just three hits, while Brinkley surrendered only four.

The r ight handed Luna improved to 9-2 on the season, while the lefty Brinkley slipped to 5-4 with a sparkling 2.49 earned run average.

The Tigers wasted a stellar pitching performance.

“Ethan came out and threw the best game I’ve ever seen him throw,” said Rockdale Coach Clay Cox. “Against a top twenty team who’s known for their offense, he managed to silence their bats.

“It’s our job to put up runs behind him in a great performance like that and we failed to do so.”

During one stretch between the third and sixth innings, Brinkley struck out seven of the 13 batters he faced.

With both pitchers mowing down batters at will, the game took just one hour, 25 minutes to complete.

Caldwell accounted for the first and only run of the game in the top of the first inning, when leadoff hitter Blaine Suehs battled Brinkley for a single up the middle and then scored three batters later on C.J. Bills fielder’s choice to shortstop.

In between, Matt Leom walked and Luna singled to left to load the bases.

Brinkley allowed the Hornets just two scattered hits the rest of the way and did not allow a runner past second base en route to his nine strikeouts.

Rockdale put two runners on base in each of the second and fourth innings before loading the bases in the fifth to come up empty again.

“We had runners in scoring position, and couldn’t find a way to plate the runs,” Cox said. “Against good teams you have to find a way in those situations to get the job done”

After the bases loaded threat in the fifth, Luna bared down and struck out four batters in a row, followed by Suehs in relief who sat down all three batters he faced in the bottom of the seventh as Hornet hurlers closed out the game with seven straight strikeouts.

Hayden Offield led the Tigers with a 2-for-3 showing at the plate, including their only extrabase hit, a double in the fourth.

The Tigers have not scored a run in two straight district games.

“We had a rough week at the plate, although it was against the top two teams in the district (Caldwell, College Station),” said Cox. “That’s on me. Somewhere we’ve gotten off stride, and I have to find a way to correct that.

After Rockdale visits Madisonville on Friday, four of their last six district games are at Tiger Field.

“We are nowhere near panic mode.”

Vanguard

Monday night on the road, the Tigers found their sticks in a 17-1 thrashing of Vanguard in Waco in a non-district affair.

Rockdale also burned up the basepaths by swiping an impressive 20 bases.

The Tigers have surpassed last year’s stolen base total by 12 with a minimum of six games remaining.

On the year, Rockdale has stolen 90-of-97 bases for a sparkling 92 percent success rate.

“We needed eight stolen bases going into the game to get last years total and we did,” Cox said. “We preach aggressive baserunning and we got on and wreaked havoc on the basepaths.”

Brinkley led the Tigers at the plate and on the hill, going 2-for- 2 with a home run (his fourth of the season) and three runs batted in.

On the mound, Br inkley improved to 6-4 on the year after two innings of work with three strikeouts.

Junior catcher Austin Caffey registered his 5ooth consecutive inning behind the plate Monday night, which translates into 82 straight games.

Caffey celebrated by going 2-for-4 with a double, three runs batted in and led the den of thieves with five stolen bases.

Loth also swiped five bases.

Offield continued his hot hand and chipped in three hits with a double.

Offield is 5-for-7 in the past two games and has raised his average to .420 for the season.

“It worked out great for us, we were able to get three pitchers work as well as come alive at the plate,” Cox said. “Going into the game we knew we needed to get back in a groove and out of this slump we’ve been in”

“We struggled to adjust to the pitching early, but managed to come around in the third and wake up. Hopefully this will get us out of our funk and carry over to Madisonville”

district 23-3a

BOYS
Team District Overall
Caldwell 4-0 15-3
College Station 3-1 17-6
Taylor 2-2 12-11
Rockdale 1-3 13-9
Madisonville 1-3 10-9
Navasota 1-3 7-9
Tuesday’s results: Rockdale 17,
Vanguard 1.
Friday’s results: Caldwell 1,
Rockdale 0; College Station 9, Taylor
2; Navasota def. Madisonville.

TIGER BASEBALL STATISTICS

Hitting (at bats-hits-avg)—Brinkley 34-66 .515; Offield 21-50
.420; Gibbs 30-75 .400; Caffey
26-65 .400; Loth 21-62 .339; Vreeland 20-62 .323; Waxler 6-25 .240;
Trejo 9-43 .209; Ehler 7-41 .171;
Pelzel 1-9 .111; Whitsel 7-43 .163;
Turman 0-4 .000.
Runs—Caffey 25, Loth 24
Doubles—Brinkley 13, Caffey 6
Triples—Gibbs 3, Caffey 2
Home runs—Brinkley 4, Gibbs 1
RBI—Brinkley 35, Vreeland 24
Steals—Gibbs 20, Caffey 14.
Pitching—Brinkley 6-4, 2.39; Loth
4-2, 6.75; Offield 3-1, 4.76; Whitsel
0-2, 7.41.


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