FLORENCE — Entering the day, the district standings showed a one-game difference between first-place Salado and Florence.
The scoreboard, on the other hand, exposed the true chasm between the No. 2 Eagles and the rest of District 22-2A.
Salado junior ace Casey Frazier held the second-place Buffaloes to two hits while single-handedly out-hitting Florence’s entire lineup, batting 3 for 3 with a first-inning, two-run home run before ever toeing the rubber in a 15-0, five-inning drubbing Friday.
“We just came out and played today, and we need to do that for the rest of the games this season,” said Frazier (6-0), who added two doubles and improved to 18-1 all time on varsity.
“We have a lot of potential and we need to live up to it.”
The second-ranked Eagles (20-3-1, 6-1 22-2A) scored at least three runs in every inning except the second, when they scored two on a two-RBI single by senior third baseman Marshall Mann, who was 1 for 2 with three RBIs.
“If we’re playing our best, there’s no doubt and I’m not going to shy away from it, we think we’re the best team in the district and we want to win the district,” Salado head coach Chad Krempin said.
In a game that could have pulled the Buffs (10-9, 4-3) into a tie atop the 22-2A standings with a victory, Florence head coach Ronny Allen admitted pitching off Friday.
“We knew our road to the playoffs was not going to go through Salado, so we didn’t even throw our best three pitchers,” said Allen.
Added Krempin: “That’s a sign of respect, hopefully, but I think whoever they would have put on the mound, we would have scored runs on.”
The Buffs travel to Rogers today at 1 p.m. and Cameron Yoe at 7 p.m. Tuesday in must-win games to maintain their hold on the second seed in 22-2A.
“We’ve got three games in five days and with a small (pitching) staff like we are, we had to just throw what we could to get through this game knowing we’d have a chance against Rogers and Cameron,” Allen said. “That was our strategy.”
Florence went with rarely-used pitcher Tyler Salis, who’s made just five appearances this season on the mound, only two of which lasted longer than an inning. On Friday, Salis surrendered 14 runs on 11 hits, five walks and two hit batters in four innings.
Of course, the Eagles didn’t need to get hits to contribute. Senior first baseman Reagan Bazar was 0-for-1 with a pair of walks but managed to score three runs and even stole a base.
“It seems like he had a better day at the plate then that, but I guess he didn’t,” Krempin joked of the 6-foot-7 Bazar. “Most people when they see him up there, they’re kind of scared to death to throw him much.”
Along with Frazier’s three-hit day, Eagles junior catcher Cole Haag was 2 for 3 with an RBI double in the first inning. Designated hitter Coby Giniewicz was also 1 for 2, plating a two-RBI double in the fourth before being pinch hit for in the top of the fifth by struggling second baseman Britton Hawes, who had his first hit in district with an RBI single and scored the game’s final run on an error by Florence reliever Dallas Broekhuizen.
Alex Ramirez and Luke McNeil recorded the lone hits against Frazier, who only faced three batters over the minimum.
“In this district, anybody can beat anybody, but Salado is head and shoulders (above the rest),” Allen said.