WACO — Cameron Cooper grew up playing baseball with Mason Hesse, but school district lines sent them to rival high schools — Hesse to Temple and Cooper to Belton.
Despite wearing opposing jerseys Tuesday night, the two provided a powerful 1-2 punch in the top of their all-star lineup.
Hesse led off the first and fourth innings with doubles and Cooper followed with run-scoring hits as the Leaders beat the Legends 12-0 in the Central Texas Baseball Coaches Association all-star baseball game Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark.
“I’ve played with Mason since I was 4 or 5 years old and he’s one of my longest friends and he’ll always be,” Cooper said. “It’s just great playing with him, whether he was from Temple or my school, it doesn’t matter.”
Leaders and Temple head coach Craig Martin didn’t take credit for putting the two friendly rivals 1-2 in his batting line-up, but the combination worked to his advantage as they accounted for five of the team’s 11 hits, including the first four.
“I certainly felt comfortable with Mason being in that (lead-off) spot and, of course, Coop did a good job,” Martin said.
“I think they’re not the only ones in this deal,” added Martin, a former Ellison coach. “So many of those guys play for summer teams together, I would be willing to bet the majority of these guys know each other from some where, either playing with or against them in the summer, so that’s a fun thing.”
Cooper singled Hesse in for a
1-0 lead in the Leaders’ four-run first inning and then tripled in the Temple shortstop in a three-run fourth. Hesse flew out to center field in the sixth inning, but Cooper singled just the same. Cooper was 3 for 3 with two RBIs, two singles and a triple while Hesse was 2 for 3.
“I was just out here having some fun. I just wanted to get some hits in, last time with this jersey on,” Hesse said. “(Cooper’s) one of my best friends. We play together in summer ball, so our chemistry is pretty good.”
Gatesville’s Tyler Jaynes, the Leaders’ starting pitcher, worked out of a first-inning jam after surrendering singles to the Legends’ first two batters. He retired three straight after that on a ground out and back-to-back strikeouts, including one against Shoemaker third baseman John Guiets.
“Any time that you can stop momentum, that’s what you want, that’s what you want your pitchers to do,” Martin said. “So many times we see high school guys get in those situations and they clam up a little bit and they end up giving up a couple of runs, and our guys did a great job of shutting that down in that first inning. Then, we came up in the bottom of that half and put four runs up for him (Jaynes), so he was able to relax. I think that was big for all of our guys, honestly.”
Jaynes gave up two hits and struck out two in two innings. Harker Heights first baseman Robby Sluss followed Cooper’s RBI triple in the fourth inning with one of his own and then doubled in his last at-bat in the Leaders’ two-run sixth.
Killeen first baseman John Rechtorovic was 1 for 2 with a double in the sixth and Shoemaker’s Gueits was 1 for 2 with a single in the fifth inning for the Legends, who finished with just six hits against the Leaders’ pitchers.
“With the high school season being over for quite some time, now, the good thing is most of these guys are playing and they’re fresh,” Martin said. “Usually, in an all-star game, you’ll worry about time off and if those guys are going to be sharp, especially when you’re playing nine innings, you want those guys to throw strikes. All of our guys did a good job of that, tonight, and, of course, we helped them offensively getting the big lead.”