Brian Gardner scored on an error in the third inning and Ellison held on for a 1-0 road win over Shoemaker on Tuesday in their District 8-6A opener.
“You always want to win the first one,” Ellison coach Ty Oppermann said.
“We all work together and it’s one run, but it feels good to have one win under our belt,” starting pitcher Edward Eakin added, “and hopefully keep it this way.”
It was a slow start all around as the Grey Wolves left runners in scoring position in the first two innings.
The Eagles didn’t get a base hit until the second, when they left three runners on.
“(Shoemaker starter Jesus Encarnacion) kept us off balance the first round through the lineup but then we made good adjustments at the plate,” Oppermann said.
The third inning went differently for Ellison as Encarnacion started by walking Gardner.
Gardner stole second and third to put himself in scoring position when Eagles pitcher Edward Eakin came up to bat.
Encarnacion hit a shot straight to Kevin Mial, who went for the out at first base. Burt Cruz stretched out to make the catch but dropped the ball, allowing Eakin to reach safely and bring Gardner in for an Eagles 1-0 lead.
“We’ve got some guys that can really play and can do some special things on the field,” Shoemaker coach Robert Conley said. “Tonight it was just one mistake that we made that cost us.
“And when you play a good team like Ellison, one mistake can get you.”
Eakin tried to steal second but was picked off as Encarnacion got the ball to Dontoneo Williams for the third out to end the inning half.
“We had a lot of hard-hit balls,” Oppermann said. “Their shortstop played great. Short and third both made some great plays tonight to keep that game really close.”
Ellison looked to extend its lead in the top of the fifth after Kristopher Medina walked and Julian Vascot moved him over to second.
Julien Jimenez came up to the plate next but never got to hit as Encarnacion went to pick off Medina at second.
Encarnacion’s throw went past Williams but center fielder Maker Nena was there to corral the ball.
Medina was too far off the bag debating to advance or stay at second that Nena was able to make the throw back to Williams for the third out to end the inning.
Eakin had another quick half-inning in the fifth, retiring all three Shoemaker hitters and recording his 10th strikeout.
“He’s a confident kid who works his butt off to get ready to do stuff,” Oppermann said. “It makes the game easier for us to be able to put a guy on the mound who can finish a game like that.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch.”
Ellison loaded the bases with one out in the top of the sixth, bringing Conley out to the mound to meet with his infielders.
“I told the guys to go out there, compete and not just sit back and let something happen.
“‘Hey, if it’s hit to you go make a play,’” Conley told his corner infielders. “And that’s what they did.”
Young sent a ball straight to Mial for a double play to end the inning.
“It feels great to start off with a win,” Eakin said.
“I want us as a team to be able to find more ways to get on base because we kind of struggled with that this game,” he added.
“The nerves of that first game are always going to be there,” Oppermann said. “So I think they’re actually going to calm down and be more confident from this.”
Conley and the Grey Wolves will take the lessons from this game and make adjustments for the next matchup Friday at Ellison.
“We knew coming into this game that Ellison was going to be one of the better teams in our district,” Conley said. “And I think tonight shows that we can play with them.
“We always tell them to try learn from the mistakes, take the positives and go and compete and see what happens.”
Tuesday's District 8-6A scores
- Belton 6, Harker Heights 3
- Ellison 1, Shoemaker 0
- San Angelo Central 7, Killeen 0
- Waco Midway 7, Copperas Cove 0