Tigers clinch playoff berth

Early entry takes the pressure off as district closes


Preston Ehler scores the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth on a wild pitch in the Tigers’ 6-2 District 18-3A victory. 
Reporter/Bill Martin Preston Ehler scores the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth on a wild pitch in the Tigers’ 6-2 District 18-3A victory. Reporter/Bill Martin After taking a year off from the playoffs, the Rockdale Tigers stuck their toes back in the post season water after clinching a spot with three games left in the regular season.

College Station (22- 4)—the No. 1 team in the state—and second place Caldwell (15-5) had already earned playoff berths.

College Station sits untouched at 8-0 followed by Caldwell (5-3) and Rockdale and Taylor at 4-4 each.

The top four teams advance to post season.

“Couldn’t be more proud of the effort and excited to have clinched a playoff spot this early,” said Rockdale Coach Ronnie Jonse, in his first season as a head coach.

Rockdale hosts Caldwell Friday and travels to Madisonville Tuesday to close out the regular season.

District 18-3A will hook up with District 17-3A in the playoffs, which includes leader Robinson (21-3), ranked No. 7 in the state.


Perace Loth has returned from a knee injury suffered in football to appear in three games for the Tigers. Perace Loth has returned from a knee injury suffered in football to appear in three games for the Tigers. The Tigers would most probably face West (19-6) or Lorena (13-10).

College Station

The Tigers threw a scare into the state’s top ranked team Tuesday night before failling 2-1 in College Station.

The Cougars KO’d the Tigers 17-3 in the first round in Rockdale.

The Tigers certainly had their opportunities late in the game.

In the sixth, Derek Whitsel followed Austin Caffey’s walk with a single.

Pinch-hitter Dylan McCartney then put down a sacrifice bunt and when the throw to first was wild, Rockdale had the bases loaded.

Jonse called for a suicide squeeze and after the batter missed, Caffey was half way down the basepath and was tagged out during a rundown at third.

Whitsel was barely able to make it safely to third on the play.

“We feel like if we can get that bunt down, not only do we score one run, we can push that guy from second,” Jonse said. “That’s something we’ve done before, and I thought it was a good opportunity to do it. It ended up backfiring, and it kind of hurt us, but that’s something we expect to get done.”

After a strikeout for the third out, the Tigers left the two men stranded. Instead, Georgiades struck out Jared Gerren to end the threat.

In the seventh, Rockdale was forced to face Ryan Johnson., who as one of the top junior prospects in the nation, has comitted to play at TCU.

Johnson hit Kacey Waxler with his first pitch, then walked leadoff hitter Clayton Gibbs on five pitches.

His defense bailed him out after he fanned Hayden Offield with a game-ending double play.

Whitsel (4-2) took the loss before being replaced by Offield in the fourth and Loth in the sixth

College Station was held to seven hits and had to overcome two errors.

The Cougars took a 2-0 lead after three innings. No. 8 hitter Cody Staab hit his first homer of the season, a two-out shot just over the right-field fence in the second inning.

The Rockdale defense shined, turning double plays in three straight innings.

“We do turn a lot of double plays,” Jonse said. “Our middle infield is pretty good, and that’s got us out of some jams this year.”

The Tigers posted their lone run n the fourth after Ehler and Nic Vreeland produced back-to-back singles.

Grisham reached on a fielder’s choice and after a wild throw to first, Ehler made it to third base.

Rockdale then pulled off a double steal. Whitsel purposely got in a rundown and as the Cougars tried to gun him down, Ehler scored standing up to make it 2-1.

Clincher

Despite the fact that they only managed three hits and none past the third inning, Rockdale’s 6-2 victory over Navasota can best be described as an anomoly.

After Rockdale wasted a leadoff double and left the bases loaded in their half of the first, Navasota used a couple of singles, a pair of fielder’s choices and an error to snag a 2-0 lead in the top of the second.

Rockdale answered swiftly in the botom of the inning when Offield used an infield single to bring home McCartney who had reached on a fielder’s choice.

The Tigers missed an opportunity to do further harm as they left Gibbs (walk) and Offield stranded.

Rockdale took control of the game in the fifth, when without benefit of a hit, sent nine batters to the plate and scored three times.

After Navasota starter Johnathon Flores plunked Caffey, he was replaced by Matthew Fontaine who walked three straight batters to provide the Tigers with a 4-2 lead.

Rockdale got to third Navasota hurler Koy Imhoff in the sixth with a pair of security runs as Offield was hit by a pitch, Ehler walked and Offield scored on an error and Ehler on a balk to make it 6-2.

Pearce Loth, who has missed most of the season with a knee injury suffered in football, made his second appearance in relief of starter Gibbs in the seventh and sat down the Rattlers 1-2-3 including two strikeouts to end the game.

Gibbs (2-2) picked up the win, allowing six hits and just two walks.

“In the second inning we made an error and misplayed a bunt which resulted in two runs,” Jonse said. “Other than those two mishaps in the second inning, our defense was great and kept us in the game. We had two double plays that got us out of some trouble in the first and sixth.”


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