GATESVILLE — Graig Keeton’s team did not make the playoffs, and he does not care.
Gatesville fell short of reaching the postseason for the third consecutive year, but after posting a 10-0 run-rule victory in Thursday’s season finale against Lampasas, the Hornets head coach admitted, while disappointed, he was content finishing outside of the playoff picture.
“It’s not fun staying at home,” Keeton said. “That is kind of getting old, but I’d rather stay out with this group than win with some other groups.”
Gatesville senior Tyler Jaynes agreed with his coach.
“This is definitely the (most fun) season I’ve had throughout my high school career,” the pitcher said, “even though we didn’t get the job done for the third straight year. It was still a blast.”
Although the Hornets did not reach the playoffs, they certainly looked like a postseason-quality team against the Badgers, especially early.
After Jaynes struck out consecutive batters to end the top of the first inning, six of Gatesville’s first seven batters scored, giving the Hornets all the cushion they needed to cruise to victory.
“More than anything, that let the seniors relax,” Keeton said. “They were probably a little tense with this being their last (game). Everybody could just sit back, relax and enjoy the game.”
Seth Martin produced a leadoff single in the Hornets first at bat, and was quickly sent across home plate on Cullen Mayhew’s RBI single. Gatesville (21-14, 5-5 8-3A) then loaded the bases and slowly moved runners around as Wyatt Crum and Hunter Dean recorded RBI hits before Taylor Donaldson’s two-RBI shot put the Hornets ahead 6-0.
In the top of the second inning, Ryan Baxter delivered a single for Lampasas (7-17-1, 0-10) in his first at bat, but it would prove to be the Badgers’ lone hit of the game as Gatesville’s defense only let players reach base four times and none advanced to second base.
“You always want to go out with a no-hitter,” said Jaynes, who struck out five batters, “but there was a low, infield hit, and there was nothing I could do about it.”
While Lampasas struggled to reach base, the Hornets had no problems at the plate, finishing with 14 hits
Jaynes (3 for 4, two runs) hit a single to start the bottom of the second inning before increasing Gatesville’s lead to 7-0 on Matthew Wallace’s single.
The Hornets did not score in the third inning, but added a pair of runs off RBI singles from Jeff Speer and Crum, who both finished 2 for 3 and scored a run, in the fourth, and Gatesville took a 9-0 lead into the fifth inning. After loading the bases, Wallace collected the game-winning hit in his final at bat as a Hornet, sending Martin across home plate to end the game.
Like his coach, Wallace would rather be in the playoffs, but he is happy with the way the season concluded.
“It’s not a bad way to end (my career),” said Wallace, who was 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs. “It’s pretty cool.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org