JUSTIN The Cleburne baseball team had not lost consecutive games all season. Friday night, the Yellow Jackets lost twice and it ended their season.
After losing Game 2 of their Class 4A Region I finals series to Wichita Falls Rider in extra innings, the Raiders showed no let up in Game 3, shutting out the Yellow Jackets 4-0 and ending Cleburne’s hopes of a return trip to the UIL state tournament.
“I feel bad for these guys, they put a lot into it,” Cleburne coach Ross Taylor said. “They had the best season Cleburne has ever had record-wise. Right now they’re disappointed.”
Taylor felt his team showed up flat in Game 2, and it translated to five errors. The errors that plagued the Jackets early Friday continued for the start of Game 3.
Rider (34-8) scored three runs in the bottom half of the first inning without registering a hit. Casey Kirkland started on the mound for Cleburne, but faced only four batters before giving way to Daniel Richardson. The Raiders’ runs came via passed ball, wild pitch and throwing error.
Rider added another unearned run in the third. Mason Stone reached on a fielding error and was later brought home by Jordan McQuerry’s sacrifice fly, making it 4-0.
For a moment, it looked like Cleburne (36-7) might manufacture an unlikely comeback. In the seventh inning, the Jackets worked a pair of base runners with one out, but this time there would be no late-inning magic.
Rider pitchers Alec Lemmon and McQuerry limited Cleburne to only four hits, all singles. The top four batters of Cleburne’s order were just 5-for-38 in the series.
“We just hit way too many fly balls, that’s a fact,” Taylor said. “The wind is blowing straight in your face. It may just be one of those deals. Last week we played with the wind blowing out and every thing fell; this week we played with the wind blowing in and nothing falls.”
Rider advances to the state tournament next week in Round Rock.
Cleburne catcher Logan Runyon (left) tags Riders Hayden Proctor (right) for an out at the plate in Game 2 Friday. Wichita Falls Rider defeated Cleburne 8-7 in extra innings in Game 2 of the 4A state baseball playoffs, in a best-of-three series at Justin Northwest High School Friday May 31, 2013 in Justin, Texas. (Star-Telegram/Ron Jenkins)
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