FRANKLIN — Salado took advantage of just about every Nacogdoches Central Heights miscue Friday night as the Eagles stormed to an 11-2 victory over the Blue Devils in Game 1 of their Class 2A Region III semifinal series at Franklin High School’s Lion Field.
“They made some defensive miscues,” said Salado head coach Chad Krempin, whose Eagles (26-8-1) will look to close out the series in Game 2 today at noon. “That’s just playing the game the right way. We didn’t make a lot of mistakes tonight.”
Salado jumped on Central Heights (22-12) early with four runs in the top of the first. With one out, Caden Eary reached base on an error by Blue Devils third baseman Sheldon McCown. Chase Basham was then hit by a pitch by Heights starter Chandler Muckleroy. Cole Haag followed with an RBI single into right to score a hustling Eary from second. Davis Little then reached on an error by Heights first baseman Brent Thomas. Casey Frazier followed with a two-run double into the left-field corner. Jacob Little then hit a sacrifice fly to right to score brother Davis and make it 4-0.
“We got hits. We took advantage of errors,” said Frazier, the Eagles’ starter who improved to 11-1 on the mound. “We put the ball in play. It looks good for tomorrow. Hopefully we can come out and win that first one.”
Central Heights got two of those runs back in the bottom of the inning. Frazier began the inning by giving up three consecutive base hits to Zach Johnson, McCown and Duke Ellis to load the bases. Joel Badders then hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice to bring in Johnson and McCown scored when the throw to first got past Salado first baseman Drew Van Winkle to cut the Eagles’ lead to 4-2.
“Casey had an uncharacteristic inning,” Krempin said. “He had some bad luck in the first inning, after that he settled in. He was a little wilder than I’ve seen him at times.”
After giving up six hits in the first two innings, Frazier allowed just one more the rest of the way. He loaded the bases to start the bottom of the fifth with a walk, a single and a hit batter but then struck out the next three batters to get out of the jam. He wound up striking out eight of the final nine batters he faced to close out the game and finished with 14 total strikeouts.
“That first inning, they got a few hits,” Frazier said. “But after that, I told myself ‘They’re not scoring again’. I just did my best to keep them off the bases. As always my defense backed me up. It was a good game. I didn’t really have it, but I tweaked a few things and started throwing strikes more.”
Salado took advantage of another Central Heights error to add a run in the top of the third. Haag scored from second on an infield single by Jacob Little when shortstop Johnson’s throw to first bounced past Thomas.
Salado added four more in the fourth. Britton Hawes was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Keaton Mims hustled to beat the throw to first for a bunt single, chasing Muckleroy from the game. Lane Snowden relieved and walked Eary, the only batter he faced, to load the bases and was replaced by Cade Watson on the mound. Basham then smacked a two-run double past a diving P.R. Johnson in right field to make it 7-2. After Haag walked, Davis Little hit a sacrifice fly to right to make it 8-2. Jacob Little added an RBI single to make it 9-2.
The Eagles then got two more runs in the fifth. Watson hit Mims and Eary then walked Bashem to load the bases. Watson walked Haag to bring in another run and he was relieved by Payton Russell. Russell then hit Davis Little with a pitch to bring in another run and make it 11-2 Salado.
REGION III-2A SEMIFINALS (best-of-three)
- Game 1 — Salado 11, Central Heights 2, Salado leads series 1-0
- Game 2 — Today, noon, at Franklin HS
- Game 3 — (If necessary) today, immediately following Game 2