For a return to the high school baseball postseason, you couldn’t get a better start than what Grapevine did in the Class 5A Region I bi-district round against Saginaw Chisholm Trail.
Both starters David Ash and Nick Evarts fired complete game shutouts to lift the Mustangs to 6-0 and 2-0 victories, sweep the series and advance to the area round. Grapevine (22-5) faces Fort Worth Arlington Heights in a best-of-three format.
The first game is set for 4:45 p.m. Thursday at Brock High School (located near Weatherford). Game 2 is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Grapevine. A potential deciding third game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Arlington Heights. Those plans could be subject to change to with wet weather in the extended forecast.
“They threw extremely well,” Grapevine coach Lee Yeager said of both Evarts and Ash. “David was dominant with his fastball and throwing it for strikes. When Nick got ahead in the count, he did a pretty good job commanding the plate. He was hard to hit square.”
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Ash surrendered only one hit and managed to work around four walks. Evarts surrendered only four hits.
But the offense basically stayed true to form with not one person standing out and leading the way. Justin Roach went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in the first game. Beau Busing went 1-for-2 with two RBIs.
The bottom of Grapevine’s order continued its trend of delivering. Evarts and Antonio Lima each scored two runs.
“When you have that kind of performance from that bottom of the order, it’s a luxury,” Yeager said. “It’s nice to make that pitcher throw stressful pitches to that part of the order. Those guys continued to put together quality at bats.”
But whether Yeager sticks with that rotation for the area playoff series is up in the air. He said it was going to depend on match-ups. Arlington Heights is a far better team than Chisholm Trail was and is one of the most tradition-rich programs in Tarrant County. Conner Neuman didn’t throw over the weekend but may have a repertoire that matches up better against the Yellow Jackets.
“All of it starts with starting pitching,” Yeager said. “As you get deeper in the playoffs, you can’t give away extra outs on defense. Your timely hitting is also pretty key. We know this is going to be a big test for us. If you want to be with the big dogs, you have to win series like these.”
That No. 3 spot
At any level of baseball, a team’s No. 3 hitter is considered the top hitter on his ball club. He hits for average. He hits for power. He also gets on base in other ways.
While Yeager experimented between Evarts and Kyle Flamm, he went with Evarts for the above reasons. But there was more.
“He’s pretty good at spraying the ball,” he said. “Evarts doesn’t strike out and has a little pop in his bat. I really like him there because he can drive the ball.”
Yeager has kept some of the key components of the lineup in check. Lima remains as the leadoff hitter. Busing is the cleanup hitter in the No. 4 spot.