SALADO — The Salado baseball team is capable of another deep run in the Class 4A playoffs, and they showed exactly why on Friday night.
Friday’s game had the makings of a high-scoring affair early on, but starting pitcher Drew Dobbins settled in and the Eagle offense added seven runs in the third inning to cruise to a 14-2 five-inning victory over Caldwell.
Following the game, Salado head coach Kreece Cooper admitted the approach his team had at the plate was a welcome sight. The 25th-ranked Eagles (16-11-1) pounded out 13 hits.
“It’s no secret, we have been striking out a lot early on this season due to inexperience,” the first-year head coach said. “The past few weeks we have been trying to dial in and just battle more. I think sometimes when we are down in the count we tend to give in, and this week we competed all week in batting practice.
“I think it was evident tonight that no matter what count we were in, we were really focused in every pitch of an at-bat.”
After the Hornets plated two runs in the first, the Eagle offense quickly responded.
Belton Farr and Jacob Wilk both had run-scoring hits to even the contest at two in the bottom of the inning.
Then in the bottom of the third, the Salado offense got to Caldwell starter Ethan Blinka. The Eagles sent 13 hitters to the plate and scored seven runs in the frame. Tate Harvey, Cullen McKinney, Parker Seaton, Rustin Hale, Ryan Oakes and Farr all had RBIs in the inning.
From there, Dobbins shut the door on the Hornets. The junior earned the five-inning win by giving up just three hits, while striking out four.
The Salado offense added a five-run fourth to extend the lead, which included an Oakes triple.
Oakes went a perfect 4 for 4 in the game with two RBIs.
“Ryan is a great ballplayer,” Cooper said. “During the offseason, he really committed on getting bigger and stronger, and he did just that. He is one of the smarter guys on the team and he really takes it serious when he steps out on the field.”
“It’s not just during the game, but in batting practice he puts in the minutes and tonight was just a testament to his hard work.”
Every Salado starter reached base in some sort of fashion. Farr ended the evening by going 3 for 3 with two RBIs. Kdhpressbox.com’s Player of the Week Harvey also added a pair of hits in the game.
The series continues today, when the teams travel to Caldwell (15-11) for a 1 p.m. start for Game 2. If necessary, Game 3 will follow.
The Eagles were able to get a good look at three pitchers that Caldwell used in the game, but Cooper knows Saturday will be a new day and his hitters must use the same approach as in Game 1.
“I like getting out on a team early, and we are going to put pressure on the other team on the basepaths. We are going to run the bases hard. Sometimes it gets us in trouble, but that’s what we do and who we are,” Cooper said.
“We are going to take all the extra bases that we can. Just keeping that pressure on the opponent, keeping the pace up, and see how they adjust to it will be the key for us,” Cooper said.