WACO — Casey Frazier and Hunter Harris engaged in quite a pitchers’ duel Friday night before Frazier’s Salado Eagles finally got the better of Harris’ Clifton Cubs in a 4-0 series-clinching victory in Game 2 of their Class 2A Region III quarterfinal playoff series at Waco ISD Sports Complex.
“It’s always fun to move on. No matter how many times you do this, it’s fun to move on,” Salado head coach Chad Krempin said. “It’s never easy. I’m proud of these guys. We’ve gotten better.
“We played good baseball against a great pitcher. I knew he was going to be tough to beat. Especially with these winds blowing dead-in like this tonight, it was really a tough run-scoring environment. We found a way to get it done. It wasn’t pretty, but we did it.”
It was a scoreless game through five innings, before the Eagles (25-8-1) finally broke through in the top of the sixth. Britton Hawes opened the inning with a walk and Keaton Mims and Caden Eary followed with bunt singles to load the bases.
“The bunt game, we work on it all the time,” Krempin said. “I like to think we can do things in the bunt game — some traditional, some unconventional. Those were just basic sacrifices and we did a nice job putting them on the line so they had to make a tough play, and we were able to beat it out with some of the speed that we have.”
Chase Basham grounded into a fielder’s choice and Hawes was thrown out at home. Cole Haag then walked on four pitches to bring in the game’s first run. Davis Little followed with a two-out single up the middle to make it 2-0 Salado.
“I was just looking for a pitch to hit and he didn’t give me one,” Haag said. “He just happened to throw four balls in a row and I got the walk. I’ve got to give credit to the guys in front of
me for getting on and putting me in position to be the guy that gets walked to bring in the run.”
It was another gem for Frazier. The senior right-hander struck out seven and allowed just one hit in the shutout.
“He’s awesome,” Krempin said of his ace. “You know that every time he goes out there you have a good chance of winning.”
Frazier had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings. It was kept alive by a pair of stellar defensive plays in the outfield. Mims made a great running catch in left field to rob Hunter Pitts of a likely extra-base hit in the third. Eary made a diving catch to rob Ray Sadler of a hit in the bottom of the sixth. Jaren Brooks broke up the no-hitter on the next at-bat with a solid hit to right.
“As always, I go out there and try to attack the strike zone,” Frazier said. “We had some great diving catches in the outfield, just solid defense. It was an overall good game for my defense.”
The Eagles added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh. Hawes scored from first on an error by Clifton (21-13-1). Third baseman Jordan Larance’s throw to first on an Eary grounder got past first baseman Hunter Pitts. Eary later scored on an RBI single by Haag.
“It feels good any time you can get a win and go to the next round of the playoffs,” Haag said. “We’re excited we get to play another week and we’re just looking forward to the next series.”
Salado gets the winner between Kirbyville and Nacogdoches Central Heights next week in the regional semifinals, with the site and time to be determined.
“It’s our ultimate goal to come out every night and just play our game and just keep winning,” Frazier said. “Our goal’s the state tournament, so we’re still on that path.”