Richland holds off Wolf rally.
Richland High School baseball head coach Matthew Jayne knows how close his Bears team got to letting a 8-1 lead slip away in the final two innings against Newburg on Thursday in Frisco League action.
After getting into and out of trouble in the first five innings, giving up one run throughout, senior Austin Walters suddenly had troubles placing his pitches.
Walters gave up four more runs in the sixth inning, but came back in the seventh inning and was perfect to complete the 8-5 victory in Richland.
Richland improves to 4-6 overall and 2-0 in the Frisco League while Newburg fell to 2-8 and 0-3.
Jayne could finally take some breaths after the handshakes.
“We got a seven run lead and then we kind of set back on our heels,” Jayne said. “But we were able to shut the door and only allow four runs that inning and then came back in the seventh inning and slammed the door even harder.”
Walters began the coach's roller-coaster ride in the first inning, filling up the bags with two outs before striking out the last batter.
Newburg senior Tristan Hoffman toed the rubber for the Wolves and pitched the same kind of game for his club, but sent the Bears back to their dugout in the first inning one, two, three.
In the bottom of the second though, he walked the first two Richland batters to start the inning.
That's when Richland freshman Jason Porter slapped a single into right-center field for an RBI.
Junior Seth Baker was out on a fielder's choice to first to score a run.
Then sophomore Andrew McCarty sent a ball to the left-field fence for a RBI double to put his team up 3-0.
Hoffman got the next batter to pop up for the final out.
His coach, Russ Mudd, said he's usually more reliable.
“His ball was up and it seemed like every ground ball was in the hole,” Mudd said. “Those things happen.”
The Wolves got a run back in the top of the third when junior Joey Brinkley doubled to deep right for a RBI.
The bats stayed quiet for the most part in the next two half-innings, but by the bottom of the fourth, Newburg was in trouble again.
Two runs scored on a throwing error by the third baseman trying to beat a runner to first with a rocket of a throw, giving Richland a 5-1 lead.
In the meantime, Walters had settled down and had his second perfect inning.
Porter had his second RBI in the bottom of the fifth when he doubled to begin another big inning for the Bears.
He said he just had to keep things simple at the plate to have success.
“I just came out thinking I need to make contact with the ball,” Porter said. “That's all I need to do to get my players in.”
Two more runs scored in the inning to give Richland an 8-1 lead.
That's when Walters took his coach down another scream-inducing, steep hill.
In the top of the sixth he, all of a sudden, lost his control and was leaving plenty of his pitches in the middle of the plate so they could find their way to the barrel of the Wolves' bats.
Sophomore Dusten Reagan hit a two-run double to center and senior Kylon Bales smashed a double all the way to the left-field wall. Hoffman nearly blasted a home run over the right-field fence, but it fell short and he had to stay at second.
Luckily for Walters, the next smash was stolen by junior David Ellzey as he leaped up and stole it out of the air to end the inning and stop the bleeding at 8-5.
Unbelievably, Richland could not find their way on base in the sixth and handed the bats back over to the Wolves.
If Jayne would have took the ball from Walters after the previous inning's scare, no one would've second-guessed the decision. Instead, he stuck with his pitcher.
“We let them get back in the game in the sixth inning, but in the seventh inning my pitcher went back out there, took the ball and said he was going to finish it,” Jayne said.
The refocused Walters sent every Newburg batter back to their dugout and won the game.
“That's normal Austin for us,” Porter said.
And for the Wolves, it was a normal day for them too, Mudd said.
“We're in a stretch right now where we are struggling finding ourselves and we just make key mistakes in the ball game that hurt us and cost us the game in the end.”