Tigers face Bryan at UMHB
Monday, 04 June 2012 by Chuck Kelly
Round three of the state playoffs for the Belton Tigers baseballteam tonight. Head coach Eddie Cornblum's talented team will take on the District 12-5A champs, the Bryan Vikings, and the showdown will begin at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor's Red Murph Baseball Field.
The first pitch of the two-of-three games series is scheduled for 7:00 pm.
After tonight, the game site will switch to the Mumford, TX, ISD Athletic Complex on Saturday at 2:00 pm and a third game, if needed, will follow a half hour later.
Belton dispatched North Mesquite and Garland Rowlett to reach this quarterfinal showdown.
In the latest series victory, the Tigers relied on something they do best --- pitching and defense --- to send Rowlett back home.
Last Friday night, Temple College- signee Blayten Magana struck out seven, pitched a complete game and drove in the go-ahead run to help the Tigers to a 4-3 win to take the opening game lead in the area-round series before a supportive hometown crowd of fans at Tiger Field.
Belton jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Jarred Janczak singled thru the gap, Max Hogan drew a base on balls, and after a runner scored on a fielder's choice, Juan Lagunas slammed a two RBI double off the left center field wall.
With one out in the top of the third, Rowlett used two singles and a double to put two runs on the scoreboard...then added another on two hot singles to tie it up at three-all.
The Tigers put an end to that scoring spree with a quickly-developing double play --- Magana to second baseman Hogan to Austin Bishoff at first.
The crowd was beginning o get a little restless at what many considered "bad" calls at home plate. Cries of "C'mon, Blue" peppered the air. But, in all fairness, he was consistent....no favorites.
In the fourth, Shane Ward doubled to deep right center field, Janczak walked and both advanced to second and third on a sacrifice bunt from Hogan. Magana then drove in Ward with what turned out to be the winning run.
The only other excitement came with two Rowlett runners on base and Magana had notched his fourth and fifth "K" of the game for two outs when Tiger shortstop Walker Winders backhanded a sharply hit ball and made the long throw to first to end the sixth and preserve the slim lead.
"Walker made an unbelievable play," commented Cornblum after the game,. "For a sophomore to be able to do that the way he did and show off his arm, the guys are going to remember that for a long time. Absolutely, it was the play of the game."
In the top of the seventh, Magana was three outs away from victory. No problem! He struck out the first batter, the second flew out to shortstop and Magana slammed the door shut with a swinging strike three for the final out. Belton took the opening game of the series, 4-3.
The teams then hit the road for a Saturday doubleheader at Carrollton Turner.
In the first game,(game 2 of the series), the Tigers trailed 6-0 after the first inning and things got no better. Two more Rowlett scores in the second and then two more in the third of the five inning run-rule shortened contest.
Rowlett piled up 10 runs off 7 hits while Belton was shut out with 4 hits in the 10-0 loss. Series even --- time to win or go home!
A short time later, Belton kept their season alive with a 2-1 victory to send Rowlett back to Garland while the Tigers looked ahead to a quarterfinal matchup against Bryan.
Senior Shane Ward pitched a three-hitter in the deciding game and also was 2-for-3 at bat.
Belton scratched out a run in the first when Janczak belted a one-out single and worked his way around the bases to finally score from third on a wild pitch. 1-0 Belton.
Ward lined a two-out double to right in the second and Janczak followed with another double to score Ward and send the game to Tigers, 2-0.
A pair of Rowlett singles in the top of the fourth inning resulted in a run for the final score of the game.
Ward proceeded to retire the final nine batters, including a celebratory strikeout. "He did a great job, one of the better pitching performances I've seen in a long time," summed up coach Cornblum. "He (Ward) was unbelieveable."
Belton (19-12) moved on and the season was over for Rowlett (26-9)
The cry of "Play Ball" will ring out tonight (Thursday) at 7:00 pm as Belton faces off with Bryan in the opening of a best-of- three game quarterfinal series at UMHB's Red Murph Baseball Field. Wear Red and be loud!