SALADO — The seventh-ranked Salado Eagles have built something special on the diamond over the last two years by avoiding slumps.
That’s a big reason why head coach Chad Krempin put the team through a tough workout on Monday following consecutive losses to Rogers and Cameron Yoe.
It all paid off 24 hours later.
Senior Britton Hawes pitched a shutout and the host Eagles put up five runs in the second inning to beat the Florence Buffaloes 8-0 on Tuesday.
“I think the guys bought in,” Krempin said. “They got up there, were willing to battle with two strikes and we got some clutch hits in two-out situations.”
Salado improved to 5-2 in District 22-2A. The loss drops the Buffaloes to 6-9-1 overall and 1-6 in district play. Hawes held Florence to four hits and struck out five while walking only two on the mound and went 1 for 2 with a runs scored from the plate. Cole Haag who went 2 for 3 with four RBIs and a run scored, leading Salado’s offense. Florence starter Peyton Person led the Buffalos offense going 1 for 2.
Last year Salado made it to the Class 2A state semifinals.
But after two consecutive losses it was back to the basics with a tough practice and it paid off as a sharp Eagles team committed only one error, got on base any way possible and took advantage of Buffaloes miscues.
“It was probably the best practice we’ve had,” Hawes said. “Everybody’s intense, everybody’s ready, everybody’s fired up. Losing those games really gave us an eye-opener that we need to step it up a little bit and realize we’re better than what we played like.”
The Eagles took control of the game early with three hits in the second inning.
Outfielder Caden Eary got Salado on the board by reaching base after being hit by a pitch and scoring from second on a throwing error.
The No. 2-4 hitters did the rest of the damage in the inning as Casey Frazier hit a two-RBI double, Haag followed with a run-scoring single to right and Davis Little slugged an RBI triple.
The Eagles got another big inning in the bottom of the fifth. Haag’s bases-clearing double brought in three runs and capped the scoring.
That was more than enough run support for Hawes as the senior righty allowed just three baserunners in the final four innings, none of which got into scoring position.
“A couple of crooked numbers was good enough,” Krempin said.
Despite the setback, Florence head coach Ronny Allen said the team is close to breaking out despite ending the first half of district play with three consecutive losses.
The Buffaloes had four hits and six baserunners in the first four innings, but stranded seven, including three in scoring position.
“We’re playing good enough to win, we’re just not taking care of it at the plate right now,” Allen said. “There’s three parts of baseball and we’re two out of three right now and that’s not good enough. We’ve got to be three out of three.”
Salado hosts Lexington on Friday while Florence looks to rebound at Rogers.