ROUND ROCK — When Salado head coach Chad Krempin emerged from the dugout a second time in the second inning, senior Jon Franz knew it was probably over.
And as Casey Frazier placed the ball in Krempin's hand, bad thoughts further took root.
“Once Casey came out of there, my heart kind of sunk, because when Casey’s on the mound, that’s our best chance to win,” Franz said. “He’s our ace pitcher, you think he’s going to lead us there.”
Frazier, winner of 23 straight, had his shortest outing ever tossing just 43 pitches over 1 1/3 inning as No. 7 Hallettsville blasted the second-ranked Eagles for a 2A state record 16 runs in a crushing 16-3, five-inning loss in the Class 2A state semifinal Wednesday evening at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.
“I don’t know how to describe it, I guess in life you have days like this. Everything went wrong it seemed like and the ball never bounced our way,” Krempin said. “It’s a real shame to show up and play like that on the last day of the season, as it turned out.”
The Brahmas (34-3) advanced to the 2A state final today at noon against No. 1 Hughes Springs (36-1), which knocked off Bangs (27-9) 5-1 in the other semifinal Wednesday.
Hallettsville batted around in a pair of horrid innings for the Eagles (34-6-1), racking up 14 of their runs with a 6-run second inning and a 2A record 8-run fourth.
Already trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second, Frazier (11-1) watched as Hallettsville belted hit after hit. Weston Seay smacked a pitch into right field, Dylan Kerr was hit in on the hand on an 0-2 count and Justin Reeves threw his hands out and slapped the first pitch he saw a foot in front of Salado right fielder Davis Little.
“From what I saw, they didn’t put a good swing on the ball, they were just kind of throwing their hands out there, just putting a bat on the ball,” Franz said. “That hasn’t happened to Casey all year, that’s something I’m not used to seeing.”
From there, it all fell apart as the Brahmas had three consecutive singles to chase Frazier, including RBI hits by Chris Jones and Reagan McAda.
“It seemed like whatever I was throwing they were hitting,” said Frazier, who allowed six earned runs on seven hits.
Junior sidearmer Britton Hawes came in from second and got a quick fly out to center field before Nate Kowalik ripped a liner that deflected off the glove of Eagles senior third baseman Marshall Mann to score another run and then Caden Eary, who come in from center to replace Hawes at second, booted a grounder to plate Hallettsville’s sixth run of the second inning for a 7-0 lead.
“It was tough, it was kind of a shocker. You’re sitting out there and negative thoughts start to go through your head, and I’m not going lie, I had those thoughts,” Franz said.
Salado scraped one run across in the top of the third when Franz ripped an RBI single into left field to score pinch runner Preston Payne from second. But after a single by senior Trey Mohler, the Eagles bats fell silent as Cole Haag hit a soft fly ball to center field and Mann grounded out to short to end the brief rally.
The Brahmas added another run in the third and then answered a two-run top of the fourth by Salado with an 8-run bottom half of the frame as the Eagles coughed up five errors — four coming with two outs.
“It seems like the wheels just kind of fell off at that point, we just kind of threw it around and we hadn’t done that all year,” said Mann, who overthrew Eary at second on an attempted force out early in the inning. “We looked really bad. You hate for it to be at the state tournament when things fall apart, but it's rough.”
Hawes was pulled after putting the first two batters on with a walk and Mann’s error in favor of 6-foot-7 senior Reagan Bazar, who got a quick strikeout before it all fell apart with a walk to Kerr after going up 0-2.
A wild pitch against Kerr allowed Wallace to touch home and Kowalik scored on a fielder’s choice by Kory Smith for the second out. After a four-pitch walk to Reeves, Franz skipped a throw to first on a potential inning-ending ground out off the bat of Carson Schindler (3-4, 3 runs scored) that allowed two runs to cross.
“I’m not going to lie,” Franz said, "it was kind of embarrassing."
Another run scored when Eary, back in centerfield after the pitching change, let a ball get past him on a single up the middle and McAda roped a single to right for a sixth consecutive run.
And for what felt like the first time all season, Salado folded without much of a fight as Jones sent the shell-shocked Eagles down in order in the top of the fifth to complete the stunning run-rule.
“We weren’t expecting that,” Franz said. “It kind of leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.”
Contact Alex Byington at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7566