ROUND ROCK -- Cleburne's magic ran out one game short of claiming the Class 4A state baseball title.
The Yellow Jackets (30-11) ran into a buzz saw in Rockwall Heath on Friday night at Dell Diamond after dispatching a list of heavyweights on their deepest playoff run since 2004. The Hawks (36-9), led by MVP Jovan Hernandez, won 10-1.
"I know our kids are disappointed that we didn't show out better, but they had to play really hard against a lot of good teams to get to this point," Cleburne coach Ross Taylor said after the game Friday night. "I don't think they have anything to hang their heads about."
The Jackets won District 7-4A and wrapped up the regular season with a record of 21-8.
Cleburne opened the playoffs by dispatching Waco and tradition-rich Fort Worth Arlington Heights in a pair of one-game series. Then the Jackets dropped Stephenville in three games before sweeping 2011 Class 4A champion Wichita Falls Rider to reach the regional final.
Cleburne edged Waco Midway 2-1 in the third and deciding game of the Region I final to advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2004.
The state semifinal matchup against Austin Lake Travis on Thursday saw the Jackets dig themselves a 6-0 hole by the third inning, but Cleburne would once again find a way to win and advance, 9-7 in eight innings.
The state title game against Rockwall Heath was the Jackets' third straight matchup against an opponent who will make the jump to 5A next fall. The tough competition, and especially the comeback over Lake Travis the night before, finally took its toll Friday in the championship game.
The Yellow Jackets also made appearances at the state tournament in 1979 and 2004 but are still looking for their first championship in baseball. Cleburne's last state title in any sport was in girls' basketball in 1995.
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760
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