Through the first nine and a half innings of its Region I quarterfinal series, the Byron Nelson baseball team had been outscored by Cleburne, 17-2.
This series seemed over. It just appeared to be a matter of outs. But the bizarre world of baseball demonstrates that nothing is at it seems one inning to the next. Down 7-0 in the bottom of third in Game 2 on Friday, the Bobcats came up with eight runs, then scored another three in the fourth and six in the fifth to win, 17-7, and force a deciding third game on Saturday.
But Cleburne’s pitching depth proved to be too much. Jacob Martin pitched a no-hitter into the fifth inning and Game 1 winner Dylan Schneider threw a big double play in the seventh inning as the Yellow Jackets won, 3-0, and ended Byron Nelson’s season.
The Yellow Jackets moved on the Class 4A Region I semifinals and will meet Lubbock Monterey. Nelson closed the season at 23-18.
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“Friday was crazy and tells you about this team,” Nelson coach Mike Killian said. “Somehow we got eight runs in the third. Credit all the kids with a great approach. It would have been very easy to go down, especially when you’re down 7-0 in the elimination game. They didn’t give up.”
Two big hits ignited the comeback in Chase Collins’ two-run home run and Bobby Jones’ RBI double. Add sophomore left-hander Bryan Seamster’s four innings of relief and that gave the Bobcats a then-4-0 record in elimination games.
Of course, that record ended at 4-1 because of Saturday. A costly defensive mistake in the third led to two unearned runs and gave Martin the cushion he needed. He retired 11 consecutive batters at one point.
Nelson’s lone legitimate rally happened in the seventh. Between Martin and Schneider, the Bobcats put the first two batters on base. However, Schneider rallied from a 3-1 count to induce Collins to hit into the double-play to crush the threat. Sophomore Connor Prado took the loss.
“In each game we did something that cost us runs,” Killian said. “But Cleburne is the kind of team that will make you pay. That’s why they’re one of the best in the state.
“But what’s good is that this young team really did a great job of gelling at the right time. You want to be playing your best in April and May. And we did that. I told them I couldn’t be more proud of what they accomplished because of where we came from.”
Making the move to 6A
Nelson will be one of the smallest 6A (formerly 5A) schools when it moves to Class 6A for the 2014-15 season. The Bobcats will be in a district that features several quality programs between Denton Ryan, Denton Guyer, Keller and Keller Fossil Ridge.
However, Killian has a program loaded with returning depth led by pitching. Five underclassmen pitched in the postseason between sophomores Seamster, Prado and Jack Waggoner and juniors Alex Johnston and Gaige Vines.
“The biggest thing we have to understand is that the level of competition is going to be higher,” Killian said. “We’re going from one of the larger 4A schools to one of the smallest 6A schools. You’re constantly playing teams where you cannot let up against. But we have the guys who can handle it.”