ROGERS — As his players gathered around, the tone in Chad Krempin’s voice was sharp and critical.
By the way he was talking, it was almost as if second-ranked Salado had come up on the short end of the 14-3 blowout.
Instead, with the postseason on the horizon, District 22-2A champion Salado extended its win streak to 11, racking up 14 hits with five players recording multi-hit days to handily dispatch rival Rogers on the road Monday afternoon.
“To me, it’s the ‘put-up or shut-up’ time of the year, and if our goal is to win a state championship and make a deep run in the playoffs … if that’s our goal, then we need to work like it, like our seats are on fire,” Krempin said. “We need to go about it that way and hopefully play the best baseball (we can), and leave nothing to chance.”
Despite some inconsistent play or mental miscues, there wasn’t much left to chance Monday as Salado (26-3, 12-1 22-2A) exerted its control early, especially from the batter’s box.
Salado junior designated hitter Casey Frazier batted 3 for 4 with three RBIs, including a bases-loaded two-RBI single to left field to score Trey Mohler and Jon Franz in the top of the first inning as Salado’s first four batters reached base.
Stringing at-bats together was key to Salado’s success, leading to three big innings, including taking advantage of four free passes in a five-run seventh inning to put the game out of reach.
“We just try to grind out at-bats and make pitchers work, get the pitch count up and continue to put crooked numbers on the board any time we can,” said Salado senior third baseman Marshall Mann, who also had three hits (3 for 5), including an RBI single in the seventh.
Salado has the regular-season finale Friday against Florence, but then has a warm-up game against 3A No. 2 Boerne next week.
Mohler scored three runs, including after striking out to open the game when he beat out a passed ball to first base, and finished 2 for 4 with an RBI single, while Franz finished 2 for 5, including an RBI ground-rule double in a two-run fourth.
After the two-run first inning, Salado pulled ahead 3-0 with an RBI double by No. 9 hitter Caden Eary (2 for 3, two runs) to score Britton Hawes from second base. Hawes would come up big in the next inning with a two-RBI double to the right-center field gap to plate Frazier and Cole Haag in a three-run third to put Salado up 6-1.
“They got a couple of flares early to bring them some runs, and then opened the floodgates when (we) made some mistakes behind them,” Rogers head coach Keith Klaus said.
Salado starter Reagan Bazar earned the win despite another slow start on the mound, walking four Rogers batters through the first two innings, including back-to-back walks to Brody Malovets and Clint Tamplen to open the bottom of the second. Malovets scored Rogers’ (16-9-2, 7-6) first run when Colton Majorka reached on a dropped fly ball to right field.
“We came out and played pretty sloppy today, we didn’t play the way we’re capable of playing,” Krempin said, “and we made some blunders out there that in a big game against a great team down the line, those are some of the things we’ll be sent home for.”
But as he’s done before, Bazar settled in, striking out four and sending down his last six batters in order over the fourth and fifth innings. Franz came on in relief and gave up one run in the seventh as Rogers managed just five hits, two by opposing starting pitcher Carson Skala (2 for 4).
“Now is the time that hopefully we’ll pick it up and our work ethic will even be greater so we can achieve great things in the postseason,” Krempin said.
Contact Alex Byington at email@example.com or (254) 501-7566