This version has been corrected from the print version to include the fact that Timber Creek won its second game against Flower Mound.
Keller took a two-game sweep of Plano to advance in the baseball playoffs, while Timber Creek bowed out to Flower Mound.
Keller now faces Mansfield the 6A Region I Area round. The Indians posted 5-1 and 4-2 decisions over Plano to advance.
The first game was played at Dallas Baptist University and then went to McKinney Boyd to find a suitable field for Game 2.
Keller head coach Rob Stramp knew one of the better bats in the state had returned to action for the Wildcats. Indeed, Cody Farhat accounted for both Plano runs in the second game with two home runs.
The Indians used good defense and pitching to get around the scrappy play of the Wildcats. They had to play from behind in both games and found a way to stay close and then finish on top.
The first game saw the Indians down 1-0 before they came alive in the sixth inning to score their five runs.
In the second game, Keller got down 1-0 and 2-1 before the fifth inning yielded enough runs to give the game and series to the Indians.
“Plano is a good program and a good team and we knew they’d be tough,” Stramp said.
The Indians have made it a habit of late to stay close and strike when needed to secure a win.
“We got behind a number of times in district,” Stramp said. “We’re a very resilient group and they stick together and keep playing and don’t panic. They find a way. It says a lot about the character of the team.”
It’s the defense which keeps the game close until the bats turn resiliency into runs.
“You have to give yourself a chance to win the game,” Stramp added.
The best-of-three series with Mansfield will give more chances for Keller to play complete games and not have to wait until the latter innings.
“The longer you play in the playoffs, the more relaxed you can get,” Stramp said. “Against Mansfield, we hope we can pick up momentum.”
The series will likely start on Thursday and intentions were to secure Quik Trip Park in Grand Prairie, although final details had yet to be nailed down at the press deadline.
Mansfield is the runner-up from District 8-6A and Stramp said their lineup is heavy on left-handed hitters in addition to having a balanced team.
Timber Creek dropped the first game of its bi-district series to Flower Mound 4-0, won the second 4-0 on a one-hit pitching performance by Ryan VanLeeuwen, and lost the deciding game 6-1.
The team set a new school benchmark in going to the playoffs in baseball for the first time and picking up a victory against the defending state champion. It’s a standard they expect to continue.
“We made huge strides to taste what the playoffs are like,” said Timber Creek head coach Derek Watson.
The Falcons had to battle their way through a three-way tie into the final week of the season to grab the fourth and final playoff spot.
Although they got no favors in the bi-district draw with Flower Mound, Watson said the pairings weren’t a concern.
“If you finish higher (in district) you play different seeds,” Watson said. “It’s like March Madness. A lot of lower seeds win and we weren’t going to let our seed dictate how we do. We were just going to go out there and play the game.”
The Falcons now expect to continue the trend set by the seniors who helped them arrive to the postseason.
“The leadership and desire that our senior class showed should carry on to the other grade levels,” Watson said. “It’s something we can build on.”
Watson added that his 10 seniors helped the team navigate a season of adversity, including dealing with a weather-plagued schedule which kept them from getting into a rhythm.
“We’ve got to feel good about where we ended up,” he said.