Mansfield Legacy’s Cole Hearrean used something new to beat Red Oak on Saturday — the elbow on his glove hand.
Hearrean earned a save in Legacy’s 1-0 win at Midlothian High School, giving the Broncos a two-games-to-one victory in their Class 4A Region II quarterfinals series.
Legacy boosted its season record to 27-10, while District 15-4A rival Red Oak finished its season at 23-15.
Red Oak had seen plenty of Hearrean’s talent this season. In Game 1 on Thursday, the senior pounded out two doubles and a homer while pitching a complete game in an 8-3 Legacy win. The Hawks won Game 2 in 10 innings 2-1, but Hearrean had helped to send the game into extra innings with his sparkling defense at first base.
On Saturday, the decisive moment came when Hearrean relieved Legacy starter Kade Strowd in the sixth inning. With runners on first and second and two outs, Hearrean faced Hunter Gonzalez, who drove in the winning run Friday night with a single to center in the bottom of the 10th.
This time, Gonzalez hit another hard shot up the middle. This one, however, hit off Hearrean’s elbow and actually bounced back toward the plate. Hearrean spun around, located the ball, then nipped Gonzalez with a throw to first.
The Broncos weren’t surprised. They had seen Hearrean make similar plays this season.
“I’m used to getting hit, but not that hard,” Hearrean said. “I wasn’t worried [about being hurt], I was just trying to find the ball in time to make the play.”
Hearrean’s play helped earned the victory for sophomore Strowd, a pleasant surprise for the Broncos. He pitched early in the season during Legacy’s varsity tournaments but spent most of the year on the junior varsity. He had pitched just eight varsity innings before Saturday’s five shutout innings.
“I threw a bunch of breaking balls,” Strowd said. “The ump was good, the fielding behind me was great, and everything just fell into place.”
Red Oak managed just four singles in the game, while all three Legacy hits were doubles. The Broncos scored their sole run in the second on an RBI double by Aaron Johns.
“I was pretty shocked that it turned into a pitching duel,” said Legacy coach David Walden. “I thought the score would be like 10-9, but their kid pitched great and so did our two.”
The Broncos will advance to the Region II semifinals to play Prosper, which beat Highland Park 17-2 on Saturday to win its series 2-1. Legacy also advanced to the fourth round of the playoffs last season.
“We graduated 11 kids last year, so this is a whole different team,” Walden said. “This is a whole new experience for them and the first time this group has gone into the third game of a series.”