The Keller baseball banquet, scheduled for Thursday, has been postponed at the last minute, but you won’t find any team members upset about not having the annual event this week.
It seems something of a more pressing issue has been put on the calendar – The Indians’ appearance in the Region I quarterfinals.
Leading up to Thursday, Keller will continue to hit the practice field to fine-tune its pitching, fielding and hitting.
Those skills served Keller well as it got past Mansfield, 4-1, in the third and deciding game of the area-round series.
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Keller had posted a 1-0 Game 1 win before losing Game 2, 5-4, all at QuikTrip Park in Grand Prairie.
Keller (22-3-1) now faces Flower Mound in the Region I quarterfinals.
The Game 3 winning pitcher, Jacob Feret, allowed just two hits and an unearned run for Keller.
Keller head coach Rob Stramp said that Feret had gotten a few starts early in the district season when the games got backed up and pitchers were needed on a rapid-fire basis. The starting experience paid off for Keller.
“We didn’t know how long he’d be able to go,” Stramp said, “but he ends up throwing a complete game. It was awesome.”
As Keller has done habitually late this season, their offense has produced runs as the game winds down.
In the Game 1 win, Keller scored the only but deciding run in the top of the seventh inning. Lane Rice was the winning pitcher for Keller.
Peyton Grassanovits helped Keller take the lead in the seventh inning. With the game scoreless, Grassanovits brought in Zane Wilkinson for the lone score of the game.
In Game 3, although Keller had taken a 2-0 lead into the fifth, Mansfield cut the lead in half. The first run was scored on a RBI hit Bradley Gneiting.
From there, Keller added insurance runs, capped by a RBI hits by Phil Young and Wilkinson in their half of the fifth inning.
Young was injured just prior to the start of the football playoffs and missed the entire wrestling season, but is now back on the field for the Indians this baseball season.
Looking ahead to the Flower Mound series, the teams have again opted for the best-of-three format.
The game locations will be as fluid as the weather, though.
The series will begin on Thursday and is preferred to be played at UTA’s Clay Gould Ballpark at 7 p.m. But any more moisture will likely switch the game to Kennedale.
The second game is also scheduled for UTA on Friday at 7 p.m. But with any rain the game may move to another turf field in Argyle on Friday and start at 3 p.m.
Should a third game be necessary, the deciding game will be played on Saturday at McKinney Boyd High School.
McKinney Boyd was also the location of Keller’s Game 2 win over Plano in the bi-district round.
Stramp said Rice is scheduled to be the Keller starter on Thursday.
Flower Mound is known for its pitching and this year is no exception, Stramp said.
The Jaguars are led on the mound by Sean Wymer, who has been stingy with runs.
But Keller has a strong base of senior leadership and an experienced underclassman group, and can handle the pressure of playing this deep into the playoffs.
“That helped us in Game 3,” Stramp said. “They were able to refocus and go in with the right mindset, especially if you lose Game 2. It takes some maturity to do that.”
Stramp isn’t concerned about any new challenges Flower Mound – or any other team – might present to his Indians.
“We’re finding ways to get the job done,” Stramp said. “I’m proud of what they’re doing. We’ll try and keep it going.”
Note: Thus far in the playoffs, the baseball team has taken on the same schedule as its softball colleagues at KHS. Both Keller baseball and softball have played Plano and Mansfield and now face Flower Mound.
The May 13 story on Keller ISD baseball included an inaccurate account of Timber Creek’s bi-district series against Flower Mound.
Timber Creek dropped the first game of its bi-district series to Flower Mound 4-0, but won the second 4-0 on a one-hit pitching performance by Ryan VanLeeuwen, then lost the deciding game 6-1. The series was inaccurately reported as a sweep by Flower Mound last week.