Dragons come home to continue playoffs

Posted Monday, May. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Carroll baseball’s postseason tour of Texas has taken a break. But the trips to Austin and Abilene have been taxing. While the Dragons (32-4) won all four meetings against San Angelo Central and Midland to keep their season going, each came down the last at-bat.

This past weekend in the Region I quarterfinal series against Midland, the Dragons again saved their best for last. Carroll used Kenny Hill’s walk-off three-run home in Game 1 to win 5-4. In Game 2, the Bulldogs stranded the tying run at third base as the Dragons won in eight innings, 9-8, at Hardin-Simmons University.

“It’s funny because last year we were in eight elimination postseason games and won all of them until the last one [against Arlington Martin],” coach Larry Hughes said. “It’s kind of had that feel to it this year because all of them been decided in the last inning.”

Carroll moves on to the Class 5A Region I semifinals, where it will meet Flower Mound Marcus in a best-of-three series. Game 1 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Carroll. Game 2 is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Marcus. If necessary, a deciding Game 3 would be played at 2 p.m. Saturday at Grapevine.

Hughes has used only his top two starters in Tyler Alexander and Ben Leeper through the first three series and needed his closer Joe Heineman late in games. Carroll’s team ERA has climbed over 2.00 as it has surrendered 17 runs in the last four games.

“It’s not about our arms, because Tyler and Ben really have been throwing pretty well,” Hughes said. “The teams are just better and putting better lineups out there. When you get further in the playoffs, they’re more potent. Our defense wasn’t a problem against Midland. We committed only one error in the two games. It’s more about the other teams.”

There have been concerns about the offense throughout the season. However, there have been some glaring problems during the postseason run. Yes, that does sound a little odd for a team that hasn’t lost a postseason game yet.

“But the key thing for us is that we have we have been getting some clutch hitting late in games, which is what you need,” Hughes said. “The good thing about depth is that you have about 14-15 guys. So you have some choices.”

Thompson waits

Senior right-hander Sean Thompson has yet to make a postseason pitch as Carroll’s first three playoff series have gone the minimum two games. Hughes has been sticking with a rotation of Alexander and Leeper as his starters. Thompson is the Game 3 starter.

For the series against Marcus, Hughes won’t disclose his pitching plan. This is the first time in three weeks the Dragons have opened on a Thursday. In the bi-district series against Arlington Lamar, Hughes went with Leeper on the Thursday home game and then Alexander on the Friday road game. One would think he will do that again. Thompson would get Game 3 at Grapevine.

“I was tempted to use Sean in the second game against Midland but didn’t do it because I knew we would have the pitching advantage if we went to Game 3,” Hughes said. “Obviously, I want to get him in. But it’s like district play, when you have two arms doing their job, no one else is throwing.”

A record

The Dragons now have the single-school season school record for wins with 32. That eclipsed the 31 set by the 2002 Class 4A state championship team. The Dragons probably need to win 38 games to win a state championship.

“I’m not into the wins and losses,” Hughes said. “To me, it’s all about the district season and playoffs. The only thing I want to do is win a state championship.”

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