Ducks end Tigers’ season
Battling for their post season lives, the Ducks derailed the Tigers 10-3 Monday night to earn third place in District 18-3A and consequently a spot in the Class 3A playoff bracket.
In front of an overflow crowd at Bulldog Field, Rockdale finishes up 17-13 on the season, while 15-15 Taylor moves on to face Robinson in the first round.
Rockdale and Taylor split their district series and had tied for third to force the playoff.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but I couldn’t be more proud of this group,” said Rockdale Coach Clay Cox. “We came a long way from that 0-5 start in week one.”
“This group stared adversity in the face time and time again this year, and won. I’ve never seen a group have to overcome so much. They could’ve easily laid down and quit, but they fought to the end. I’ve never had a group with this great of chemistry and that has been this much fun to be around”
Despite the fact that they swiped 10 bases, the Tigers could not come up with the timely hit to take advantage of the thievery and bring those baserunners to home plate.
Rockdale left runners stranded at third base in the first, second, fifth and sixth innings.
“We got guys on and ran,’ Cox said. “ That’s what we do. Our guys got great jumps and we swiped a lot of bags, we just couldn’t push those runs across when we got to second and third.”
Playing without their leading hitter and pitcher Ethan Brinkley, who’s year ended with a knee injury three games ago, the Tigers managed just five hits off Taylor starter T.J. Stewart.
The 6- foot- 4 righthander struck out 10 Tigers. Stewart did not allow a hit between the third and sixth innings.
Pearce Loth (5-4) took the loss for Rockdale in three innings of work after allowing eight hits.
Derek Whitsel accounted for two of the Tigers’ five hits and only extra base hit, a double in the first.
Loth led the base stealing parade with four, while Whitsel swiped three.
Taylor sent eight men to the plate in its first at-bat, using four singles and two walks to jump out to a 3-0 lead.
The Tigers trimmed the lead to 3-2 in the second after Stewart walked Clayton Gibbs and Preston Ehler to open the inning before Nick Pelzel and Hayden Offield singled them home.
The Ducks strung together three hits and used two Rockdale errors to add four more runs to their lead to make it 7-2.
In their final at- bat in the sixth, the Ducks secured three insurance runs on the strength of three walks and three hits for a 10-2 lead.
The bottom of the Taylor batting order (7-thru- 9) punished Rockdale pitching, going 7-for-13 with five runs batted in.
Wyatt Townsend, Colin Sacowitz and Roland Espinoza all had two hits each.
The Tigers were attempting to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1999 and 2000.
Caldwell defeated College Station for the top seed in the playoffs after the two teams tied for first place.
Caldwell (23-4) receives a bye in the first round while College Station (23-7) will face China Spring.
The Tigers were forced to start eight underclassmen (including five sophomores) this season and will return a wealth of experience next season.
Rockdale loses Brinkley, Patric Trejo, Nick Pelzel and William Dean to graduation.
“The future is bright for Tiger Baseball,” Cox said. “Eight starters from the line up return next year, and there will be a wealth of experience for the next two seasons.
“We played a lot of tight ball games this year and with age comes experience. Those games in the future will come out in our favor, and when they do watch out. This group has limitless potential and will make some noise when it is all said and done”
The Tigers whipped Whitney 6-2 in a warmup game Saturday at Tiger Ballpark.
TIGER TRACKS—Tiger Coach Clay Cox is off to the best two-year start in RHS history. Cox is 37-27 in his first two seasons... Ethan Brinkley finished his career with 73 runs batted in which puts him fifth on the career list. His 38 RBI this season was third-best in RHS history behind Vincent Jiminez’ 50 and Chance Betchan’s 48... The Tigers swiped 135 bases this season, led by Clayton Gibbs’ 29.