By Alex Byington
Harker Heights Herald
WEIMAR - The sound off the bat said it was gone.
But what began as palpable excitement quickly faded into disappointment as Clint Scarborough's rocket shot veered into the left-field bleachers for a foul ball.
This time, there'd be no fairy-tale ending for the Salado Eagles.
The magic dust that had carried them to five last at-bat victories in their longest postseason run since winning it all in 2008 was gone.
And with a lazy pop-fly out to short, Salado's season ended as the Roughnecks' potent offense exploded for 26 runs and 30 hits to sweep the final two games of the best-of-three Region IV-3A semifinal series Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park in Weimar.
"It just wasn't our day," Scarborough said. "I have no regrets. I knew we weren't going to lay down and die, because we never do that. We just came up a little short this time."
Batting around four times throughout the two games - including three in a 16-5, five-inning run-rule victory in Game 2 - Columbia (24-9) cruised thanks to the hot bats of several of its juniors.
Getting it done at the plate and on the mound after coming on as the third pitcher in the first inning of Game 3, junior Treylon Johnican combined to hit 3-for-5 with six RBIs - including a grand slam in a huge six-run second inning to negate a four-run effort in the first by Salado in a 10-8 win in Game 3.
"Once we had that four-run lead, that hurt big time losing that lead, and that quickly especially," longtime Salado head coach Melvin Bates said.
Johnican, who didn't allow the senior-laden Eagles to score any more than one run in four of the next six innings, finished 5-for-7 with a time-high nine RBIs and scored five runs throughout both games Saturday.
But despite the losses, and some consoling hugs from friends and family, there wasn't any sadness to be found along the Salado (26-11) bench.
"When you have a large group (of seniors) like this and almost every one has been in the program for four years, ... you lose apart of yourself," Bates said. "You've spent so much time with those kids, it's like part of your family."
Going with usual No. 3 pitcher and closer Colby Schiller as the starter in Game 2, over regular No. 2 pitcher Scarborough, the decision didn't pay dividends as Columbia sent all nine batters to the plate in both the first and fourth innings, exploding for five runs in each frame before batting around in a six-run fifth inning to cap the run-rule.
"The last couple of times out, (Schiller) pitched better than Clint, so that's why we went with him," Bates said.
Last just 3 2/3 innings pitched, Schiller gave up all 10 runs in the first and fourth - highlighted by the bat of opposing pitcher Colby Ryan, who's 3-RBI double in the fourth chased Schiller. Ryan also had a two-run double in the top of the first that was immediately followed by a two-run home run from batterymate Tyler Ince for the early 5-0 lead.
The Eagles answered with three runs over the next two innings, but could never put together the big inning it needed.
"We didn't get the big inning, and that hurt," Bates said.
Turning to Scarborough for the start in Game 3, things didn't get any easier for the Salado.
Highlighted by a two-run home run by Hunter Ward, the Eagles scored four runs against two Columbia pitchers in the bottom of the first before Johnican come to the mound after starting the game in right field and got three straight outs to end the threat.
And despite a 5-for-5 night at the plate for junior Bubba Luna, Salado's offense never got going again.