“As the gambler said of his dice, to love and win is the best thing, to love and lose is the next best.” — William Makepeace Thackeray, “The History of Pendennis”
Chad Krempin is not a betting man.
With three young daughters at home, you’re not likely to ever see the second-year Salado baseball coach running to his neighboring gas station to spend a dollar on a lottery ticket.
But after Saturday, when the second-ranked Eagles fought back to sweep a doubleheader over Centerville and advance to the Region III-2A semifinals this weekend, it might not have been a bad idea to stop on his way out of College Station to pick up a Powerball ticket.
His numbers would be simple enough — just ask his two big heroes for their birthdays and roll the dice.
Backed into a win-or-go-home potential doubleheader Saturday after unceremoniously losing Game 1 of the best-of-three quarterfinal series May 17, Krempin turned to the safest bet he had on his roster — Casey Frazier.
And the junior ace responded and tied the series with a complete-game 4-0 shutout.
“You know what you’re going to get with Casey, he’s like the Powerball lotto, there’s no chance those guys are going to score many off him — not today,” Krempin said.
Krempin is a facts and figures type, one who hedges his decisions based on what he knows. And going into a must-win Game 2, he knew Frazier has won 22 games in two years on the mound for Salado.
In Game 3, after scrappy Centerville rallied to tie the game and force extra innings, Krempin turned to his other absolute — his seniors’ refusal to lose.
With one out in the top of the eighth inning, Trey Mohler drew a four-pitch walk and Jon Franz ripped a 0-2 pitch through the left side of the infield for a single.
Then, following the second out, senior Marshall Mann answered the call, drilling a rope to the gap in right-center field for a two-RBI triple to eliminate Centerville with a 7-5, eight-inning victory after more than five hours of baseball Saturday.
Frazier knew his job. So did Mann. As the Eagles move into their Region III-2A semifinal series with Elkhart — a team Krempin describes as a mirror reflection of Salado — don’t expect to see any big gambles.
When a batter reaches base with less than two outs on the board, you can bet Krempin’s going to signal for a bunt to move the runner over.
It’s the safe thing to do.
Because when it comes to Salado’s success this postseason, Krempin doesn’t leave anything to chance — he goes with what he knows. He bets on his players.
And in the end, that will be what leads the Eagles to the ultimate jackpot — another 2A state championship.