Tigers’ playoff possibilities take hit in loss to Cougars
In the Tigers’ 4-3 loss to College Station Tuesday night at Tiger Ballpark, Ethan Brinkley was injured while chasing down a fly ball and had to be carted off the field.
The senior is not only Rockdale’s top pitcher with an 8-5 record, he’s the Tigers’ top hitter with a .493 batting average and 38 runs batted in during a banner year.
Brinkley was chasing a swirling fly ball in centerfield in the sixth inning with Rockdale leading 3-2, when he slipped to the ground and immediately grabbed his left knee.
Brinkley had injured the miniscus in his right knee during in the fifth game of football season and wore a brace for most of the year. He did not wear a brace during the baseball season.
Rockdale, which had won three of four coming into Tuesday, is 15-11 overall and 3-5 in District 18-3A play.
Taylor (13-12, 4-4) defeated Navasota 4-2 Tuesday to pull one game ahead of the Tigers in the district standings.
Rockdale closes out the season at Caldwell (20-4, 7-1) Friday and then hosts Madisonville (11-14, 2-6) next Tuesday.
The previously ranked Caldwell suffered its first district loss to College Station Friday.
College Station, led by former Thorndale coach Scott Holder in its first year, improved to 22-6 and 7-1 to remain tied with Caldwell atop the district standings.
College Station, which has won five straight and seven of eight, was able to grab the lead in the sixth on Baylor Rowlett’s RBI triple and then Rowlett (3-for-3, 2 RBI) scored on a ground out to push the Cougars ahead 4-3.
In the bottom of the seventh, Rockdale put two men on with Austin Caffey’s walk and Pearce Loth’s single, but were unable to push them across.
Other than Loth’s single in the seventh, the Tigers were able to string together just three more hits—all in the fourth inning— while producing just one run which consequently sent them out in front 3-2.
Preston Ehler and Caffey singled in the fourth with Ehler scoring on Derek Whitsel’s single to left.
College Station starting pitcher Nick Kennedy walked five batters, including four straight to allow Rockdale to tie the game 2-2 before being pulled with just one out.
His replacement Kyle Richardson faired much better, striking out 10 Tigers the rest of the way and allowing a single run.
Loth (4-3) took the complete game loss, allowing six hits, five walks while fanning four.
College Station defeated Rockdale 9-0 in their first meeting.
The Tigers kept their playoff hopes alive with an 8-2 victory over Navasota (7-13, 1-6) on the road Friday.
Brinkley (1.88 ERA) turned in his sixth complete game of the year, allowing just five hits and sitting down five hitters.
At the plate, Brinkley (.493) was 3-for-3 with a double and three runs batted in.
Whitsel (2 stolen bases) , Loth (2 RBI) and Offield (double) all went 2-for-4. Caffey also produced two runs batted in.
Rockdale jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings.
“Another big win for us against Navasota,” Cox said. “In my opinion one of the best all-round games we have played.
“Brinkley continued to throw lights out, and the defense played phenomenal behind him. Our infield had their best game of the year.”
“We shook the order up a little bit last week and moved some guys around. It has proven to be a difference maker so far as guys like Derek Whitsel and Hayden Offield continue to produce in their new spots”
“Can’t say enough about how well our defense is playing right now. We had a lot of errors early on in the year, but have proven to be pretty solid throughout district play.
“If Loth and Brinkley keep throwing like they are, and the defense continues to play solid, we will be in these last three games as we make a run at the playoffs”
TIGER TRACKS—The Tigers have swiped 102 bases on the year led by Gibbs’ 20. They have been caught just nine times... After committing 38 errors in the first 18 games, have committed just 10 in district. Tigers’ district fielding percentage is .954... With 38, Brinkley is third on the RHS RBI season list, trailing Vincent Jiminez (50) and Chance Betchan (48)... The Tigers began the seaosn 0-5 and are 15-6 since. then.
Team District Overall
Caldwell 7-1 20-4
College Station 7-1 22-6
Taylor 4-4 14-13
Rockdale 3-5 15-11
Madisonville 2-6 11-12
Navasota 1-7 7-14
Tuesday’s results: College Station 4, Rockdale 3; Taylor 4, Navasota 2:Caldwell def. Madisonville.
Friday’s results: Rockdale 8,
Navasota 1; College Station 5, Caldwell 2; Taylor def. Madisonville.
TIGER BASEBALL STATISTICS
Hitting (at bats-hits-avg)—Brinkley 37-75 .493; Offield 24-61 .393;
Gibbs 32-85 .376; Caffey 27-71
.380; Loth 26-72 .361; Vreeland
24-72 .333; Waxler 6-25 .240; Trejo
9-46 .196; Ehler 8-50 .160; Pelzel
2-16 .125; Whitsel 12-53 .226;
Turman 0-4 .000.
Runs—Caffey 29, Loth 26
Doubles—Brinkley 14, Caffey 6
Triples—Gibbs 3, Caffey 2
Home runs—Brinkley 4, Gibbs 1
RBI—Brinkley 38, Vreeland 27
Steals—Gibbs 20, Loth 17.
Pitching—Brinkley 8-5, 1.88; Loth
4-2, 6.23; Offield 3-1, 4.50; Whitsel