BELTON — Regardless of the size, batteries have the ability to power anything and get things started.
That’s exactly what the Belton Tigers have counted on from pitchers Jared Janczak, Tanner Frick and catcher Joey Hogan.
The Tigers bring their energy into a Class 5A bi-district rematch with the South Grand Prairie Warriors beginning on Thursday.
“It’s win or lose it all,” Janczak said. “You’ve got to win every game and go onto the next round. For me, this is fine.”
The best-of-three series begins on Thursday at 7 p.m. at South Grand Prairie High School and continues on Friday at Belton at 7 p.m. Game 3 of the series, if necessary, will be played Saturday at 6 p.m. at Baylor Ballpark in Waco.
The Tigers went 13-1 in District 8-5A play this season and one of the main reasons was having a good 1-2 punch in Frick and Janczak on the mound teamed with a seasoned catcher like Hogan behind the plate.
“I don’t think I’d rather have anybody else catching me,” Frick said about Hogan. “He knows the game, he knows what I want to do and I trust him to catch every ball I throw. Jared knows what I’m doing wrong, pushes me harder and pushes me to be a better pitcher.”
Catchers may be overlooked at times, but Hogan doesn’t mind.
In fact, he prides himself in being the captain of a great defensive infield and catching the talented pitchers.
“I come out here every day and try to work as hard as I can” Hogan said. “When it comes to game time, I trust what I’ve done in practice, I trust my teammates and I trust these two guys to hit my spots.”
The Tiger (19-8) defense went a long way in helping the school win the district title.
In 14 district games, the Tigers had only 11 errors.
“I don’t think there’s a better defense in the state of Texas,” Frick said. “I know they’re going to make the plays behind me, I don’t care who’s out there. They just make every play they need to.”
In 2013 the Tigers got into the playoffs, but fell to South Grand Prairie (16-14) in three games.
Janczak remembers how dejected he was after Belton lost to South Grand Prairie last year, but how excited he got once he
heard the team it drew in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs.
“It’s exciting to get a little revenge on them, but we’ve got to keep our head focused and not come out too vengeful,” Janczak said. “We have to focus on our game and we know how to beat them.”
Janczak, a senior righty, earned all-state recognition last year; Frick, a sophomore southpaw, dressed with the varsity team last season after playing on the junior varsity squad most of the year.
Though he has a baseball career in the Big 12 on his list next year, Janczak, a TCU signee, isn’t holding anything back this postseason.
“You’ve got to play every play like it’s your last,” Janczak said. “You could get injured; you never know what’s going to happen. You have to play every single game like it’s your last.
Hogan said the Tigers have a better shot at getting to the next round this season because of the combination of pitching, defense and hitting.
“It’s fantastic,” Hogan said. “You’ve got a guy throwing from the right side and a guy throwing from the left side. They just pound the zone, get outs and trust their defense.”
Belton head coach Eddie Cornblum said although the season is a grind, the postseason and moments like this are what the team has been working toward since fall workouts began in August.
And now the spotlight gets bigger.
“We’re excited to keep playing,” Cornblum said, “and in a one-high school town where the community’s behind you and everybody is looking at you, we take a lot of responsibility to that and want to make sure that everybody understand we’re striving to be the best at all times.”
BELTON VS. SOUTH GRAND PRAIRIE
GAME 1 — Thursday: Belton at South Grand Prairie, 7 p.m.
GAME 2 — Friday: South Grand Prairie at Belton, 7 p.m.
GAME 3 (if necessary) — Saturday: Belton vs. South Grand Prairie, 6 p.m. at Baylor Ballpark, Waco
Contact Albert Alvarado at email@example.com