Chad Krempin opted to spend Saturday afternoon in Tyler.
The Salado baseball coach wanted to watch and scout No. 1 Hughes Springs. After the Mustangs defeated No. 8 Palmer 11-1 in six innings, that is who he hopes to play in the 2A UIL state championship game Thursday.
Of course, his second-ranked Eagles still have to win a semifinal game to get to the title game, but Krempin isn’t really worried about that.
Casey Frazier is slated to be Salado’s starting pitcher.
And that all but assures the Eagles of a win.
Before every outing, Frazier tweets #SurviveAndAdvance. But there is no doubt that Salado will survive when he takes the mound.
Because they don’t just survive, they thrive.
The Eagles always play with a demeanor of confidence, coolness and togetherness. But when Frazier takes the hill, it is simply swagger. Ground balls don’t get booted.
Fly balls don’t get dropped. No one wants to make the mistake that could ruin another spectacular pitching performance from Salado’s ace.
Every Salado player knows that if they don’t make a costly error behind him, that the Eagles are going to win when Frazier starts.
And with good reason.
The junior has won 23 straight decisions for the Eagles. He is 11-0 this season with a 0.42 ERA.
“We know Frazier is on the mound, everybody has that confidence that he’s going to get the job done,” said senior shortstop Jon Franz after Frazier shut down Troy on Friday.
That 11-0 run-rule win over Troy seemed like a foregone conclusion before it even started. Salado opened the series with a 9-3 win over the Trojans, then Krempin avoided going ace against ace and all but let Troy have Game 2.
He knew Frazier was going to win Game 3.
And, of course, like always, he delivered. Frazier struck out eight of the first 11 batters he faced and the win was never in doubt, especially after Salado built him a 7-0 lead before he even took the mound.
“It feels great. I know we have something special, we’ve worked hard all season and we deserve it,” said Frazier, who allowed just four hits over five innings in the win. “We deserve it.”
And they deserve it because of him.
No, he is not a one-man show. But he could be.
Frazier has not lost since his first varsity start on the hill. And even then it took the No. 1 team in the state, Robinson, to beat Frazier, who was only a sophomore at the time.
He ended last season with a record of 12-1, an impressive feat for his first season on varsity.
But this year he has been even better.
Frazier has struck out 88 batters in 83 2/3 innings. Opponents are batting less than .170 against the junior.
His fielders can even become a little bored, waiting for a ball to be hit to them. Caden Eary once went four games without a ball being hit his way in left field.
It is just not on the mound where he is getting it done, either. On occasion, he provides his own run support.
Frazier is hitting .353 with three home runs, 28 runs and 36 RBIs this season, batting out of the No. 5 hole in the Salado lineup.
Salado is not without other solid starters.
Reagan Bazar is a Division I talent, heading to Louisiana-Lafayette next season. Bazar has a 2.44 ERA and is 8-2 on the year. Britton Hawes has a 1.28 ERA and an 8-1 record.
On other teams, they would be the ace of the staff.
Perhaps even district MVPs.
But Salado has Frazier.
He is dominant, under control and always helps Salado “survive and advance.”
He is everything an ace should be.
And because of that, Krempin will likely spend Thursday in the dugout at Round Rock’s Dell Diamond, watching his team play for the state title.