Ethan Schaefnocker couldn’t get the ball over the plate. The Ellison pitcher walked the first three Copperas Cove batters he faced in the first inning.
In between the first and second inning his father came down to the dugout and told the senior what was wrong — he wasn’t staying back. With the quick adjustment made, Schaefnocker got control of his pitches and the Eagles took control of the Bulldawgs, winning 12-2 in a six inning run-rule at Ellison on Tuesday.
“I was doing something wrong with my mechanics and my dad came up to me and told me what I was doing wrong and I got my concentration back and I knew we had to get this win to get to the playoffs,” Schaefnocker said.
Schaefnocker walked six Cove batters, but only gave up two hits, while striking out four in the 10-run victory that kept Ellison’s faint hopes alive in the District 8-5A playoff race.
The Eagles, who despite the win are one game behind Harker Heights for the fourth and final playoff spot in 8-5A with two games remaining. The Knights defeated Temple 13-10 on Tuesday to maintain the gap.
Ellison (8-19, 5-7) has to defeat Killeen and Shoemaker to end the season and hope the Knights lose to either Waco Midway or Cove.
“We tell the kids if we win out we give ourselves an opportunity,” Ellison coach Kyle Allred said. “We can’t afford another loss. That is pretty obvious. We have to take it one game at a time and not look ahead and keep giving ourselves chances.
“One loss and we are out of the hunt.”
Schaefnocker battled out of a jam in the first inning. After he walked the first three batters, Ellison catcher Felix Collazo threw out Ryan Dorroh, trying to steal. Schaefnocker got Julian Doubleday to ground into a fielder’s choice the out coming at home plate — and then struck out Riley Childers to end the threat.
Cove pitcher Charlie Folger proved to be even wilder than Schaefnocker was in the first.
Folger hit the first two Ellison batters and unlike Schaefnocker, the defense behind him, did not help him out of the jam. It only made matters worse. A pair of errors allowed Angelo Rodriguez to score and a balk sent home Schaefnocker. Sam Weston then ripped an RBI single to put the Eagles up 3-0.
Derris Prater had an RBI groundout as Cove (5-21, 2-10) cut into the lead in the second inning. Tyler Bark, though, smacked an RBI double and Callazo followed with an RBI single to increase the Ellison lead to 5-1.
Cove’s only other run came off a sacrifice fly by Kyle Winstead in the third.
After that it was all Ellison.
Landon Persick hit a two-run double in the fifth to put the Eagles up 7-2. And in the sixth, Ellison capitalized on three Cove errors, a wild pitch and a dropped third strike to finish off the Dawgs.
“From experience we have been on the opposite end of that,” Bark said. “We have made errors and then other teams come back with base hits. It was a good job on our part to capitalize on their mistakes. We had not done that as lot this season. ... It feels very good.”