By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
SALADO - Playing with heavy hearts and without its head coach, the Salado baseball team couldn't avoid giving up the big inning for a second straight District 25-3A loss.
With first-year head coach Chad Krempin away attending his mother's funeral in Brownwood today, the Eagles committed three errors in a five-run second inning and Burnet took advantage for a 7-3 victory Tuesday at Eagles Field.
"We came out here to try and do the best we could and try to play the game the way he'd want it played and I tried to coach it the way he would coach it," Salado assistant and interim coach Josh Harris said of Krempin. "And if we didn't have that bad second inning and make a couple of errors, … we're going to extra innings right now."
The Eagles jumped ahead of Burnet 1-0 on a two-out RBI-single from Jon Franz in the top of the first inning. But it wasn't long before the wheels fell off.
Burnet (14-6-1, 4-2 25-3A) opened the second inning with back-to-back hits, including a double to center from Josh Thompson to put runners on second and third with no outs.
Following a sharp line-drive out to Franz at shortstop, Bulldogs No. 8 hitter Blaine Posey ripped a double past Salado right fielder Davis Little to pull ahead 2-1.
After Eagles starter Britton Hawes walked Shae Edmonds, catcher Cole Haag skipped a pickoff throw past first baseman Reagan Bazar that went into right field, scoring Posey from second and allowing Edmonds to reach second.
"(It was) just routine plays and making dumb decisions,
throwing the ball around, and that's what will kill us," said Salado junior Marshall Mann, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the seventh. "We're not scoring a lot of runs, and when you're not doing that you have to play good defense, and we didn't do that."
But the pain didn't end there. With runners on the corners after a pop-out to short and a roller back to the mound deflected off Hawes' glove, Salado second baseman Caden Eary snagged a liner up the middle but made an off-balance throw to first sending the ball into the fence that allowed two more runs to score for a 5-1 lead.
"Scoring runs is a problem nowadays for just about everyone, so whenever you can string a big inning together, it's really big," Burnet coach Todd Doucet said. "The big inning is what's going to win games."
Salado (13-10, 4-2) added one run in the fourth when Bazar beat out a play at first to score sophomore Casey Frazier from third after a leadoff single, and another in the seventh when Mann's two-out single scored Trey Mohler from third.
After starting district play 4-0, the Eagles have dropped two straight and fell into a two-way tie with the Bulldogs for second place behind undefeated Liberty Hill.
"We've proven we can compete with anybody in this district and our own worst enemy is ourselves," Harris said. "A bad inning here or there, and we usually run into about one of them (every game) and it ended up costing us tonight and it ended up costing us last week against Liberty Hill."
Without Krempin, who replaced longtime skipper Melvin Bates in the offseason, Harris admitted there was confusion between himself and the Eagles players with regards to baserunning and hitting signs, a job the head coach usually handles.
"That's something we kind of ran into. I gave a few signs … and guys missed them, but that's just us not knowing each other that well," Harris said.
"Unfortunately things didn't go our way tonight and our thoughts and prayers are still going out to coach Krempin and his family and we'll get back to work on Friday."