Tigers move on to regionals
GRAFORD – Jacksboro’s baseball team was down to its final nine outs of the year and staring at a pretty big hill to climb during Saturday’s game 3 of the Tigers’ Class 3A area-round matchup with Clyde.
The Bulldogs had won game 2 of the best-of-three series earlier in the day at Abilene Christian’s Crutcher Scott Field 11-0 and were leading 6-1 after four frames of game 3 before Jacksboro began to turn the corner. When all was said and done less than an hour later, the Tigers were celebrating a 7-6 win in game 3 and an area round win.
Jacksboro will now take an 18-14-1 record into this weekend’s regional quarterfinals vs. Peaster (23-5). Game 1 is Thursday at 7 with game 2 Friday at 7. Game three, if needed, is Saturday at 1 p.m. with the series being played in Graham.
The Greyhounds finished second in District 7-3A and split with Breckenridge during the regular season. Jacksboro needed three games to beat Breckenridge during the bi-district round of the playoffs.
The two teams kept things scoreless in game 3 for the first two innings before the Bulldogs struck for three in the third and fourth innings to take the aforementioned lead. Jacksboro began its comeback in the fifth with Lathan Lowrance bringing home a pair.
Clyde errors would help bring Jacksboro all the way back in the sixth to tie the game. In the seventh, Caleb Nunley got things going with a walk while Jacob Hull reached on one of five Bulldog errors for the game to put the winning run into scoring position.
Tyler Harmonson would close out the game with a single through the box to plate Nunley and end Clyde’s season at 25-5. It wasn’t the only big hit the senior catcher had during the series, which began in Graford May 11.
Harmonson stroked a three-run homer in the series opener as part of a five-run fourth inning which broke the game wide open and helped the Tigers on their way to a 13-3, six-inning victory. Assistant Coach Alex Rodriguez said the win was due to everyone letting their teammate play.
“(Luke) Dixon did an awesome job on the mound,” Rodriguez explained. “He pitched and let his defense play behind him.”
Harmonson, who had had his hitting issues late in the campaign, picked it up at the right time in the eyes of his assistant coach.
“For a guy that wasn’t hot, he has picked up at the right time,” Rodriguez said. “The depth on our team going 1-9 has made a huge difference.”
That was true in the series opener. Clyde struck for a run in the top of the first only to have the Tigers come right back in the bottom of the frame. Fernando Piedra opened with a single but was forced at second in place of Dixon on the fielder’s choice.
An error, a groundout and a Payton Laake single plated Dixon to tie the game. Dixon kept Clyde in check until the first of two five-run innings.
Ty Kennedy drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a passed ball. An error and a Lowrance single broke the tie. Lowrance advanced to second while Nunley drew a walk.
Hull’s infield single scored Lowrance for a 3-1 lead to set the stage for Harmonson’s shot over the left field wall.
The Tigers added a pair in the fifth with Nunley drawing a walk and Harmonson singling, the pair coming home on Piedra’s single for an 8-1 lead. Clyde struck for a pair of sixth-inning runs before Kennedy came on in relief of Dixon and got out of a bases-loaded jam.
Jacksboro opened its second five-run inning with Clay Botello being hit by a pitch, Laake beating out a bunt single and Kennedy drawing a walk to fill the pond. Singles by Lowrance and Nunley scored a pair of runs with Hull emptying the bases and ending the game on mercy rule, with a double.