ROUND ROCK — It wasn’t so much what the Yellow Jackets didn’t do Friday night.
It was what they did Thursday night that emptied the tank of most of their petrol and what Rockwall Heath did to them in the 4A state championship game … which, by the way, Heath had already done to just about everyone else.
The Hawks were relentless in a 10-1 win, surging ahead 3-1 in the third on Javon Hernandez’s two-run homer and piling on the runs in the middle and late innings.
Hernandez was magical with the bat, also with the arm.
He allowed a run and four hits, struck out five, walked one and hit a batter in a complete game.
His counterpart, Cleburne senior starter German Hernandez, couldn’t get out of the fourth. He allowed four runs on five hits. Cash Calahan pitched Cleburne into the late innings, and senior lefthander Cody Sibley mopped up.
It was a rough way for the Yellow Jackets to end a 30-11 joyride in which they defeated Arlington Heights, Stephenville, Wichita Falls Rider, Waco Midway and finally Lake Travis in the playoffs. Most, if not all, were upsets.
Heath (36-9) was different. Heath had no weaknesses, only strengths.
“Everybody in the lineup could hit and hit well,” Taylor said. “The first guy comes up, and he’s good. The next guy comes up, and you say, ‘Hey, he’s pretty good, too.’ You’d get an out and a strikeout, but then you’d get somebody else coming up who was capable of taking it deep anytime.
“They swing the bat pretty well top to bottom.”
Jovan Hernandez was the real deal. He wasn’t alone in the spotlight.
“He can hit and pitch,” Taylor said. “Jake Thompson is probably going to sign for $3 million plus. The shortstop (Bret Boswell) is going to make some money. They have two lefthanded hitters who have a chance along with Jovan and No. 12 (Clasyton Rasbeary), who almost hit one out to right field.”
By 11:30 p.m. Thursday, the world knew that the Yellow Jackets had completed an improbable comeback, overcoming a six-run deficit to beat Lake Travis, 9-7. That took something out of the Yellow Jackets, Taylor said. How much, nobody will ever know.
“I think it took a lot out of us. We played so many tough series that, eventually, the tank ran empty. We didn’t have time to recharge. That game last night (Lake Travis) took a lot. We tried to give the kids an extra hour sleep.
“But if they were like I was, I didn’t sleep all night. I kept replaying it and thinking about tonight, replaying it some more and thinking some more about tonight. If they were like me, they didn’t get but two or three hours sleep.”
Taylor selected German Hernandez to start the game, “because I thought he had the best control. I thought he would give us a chance to get into the fifth inning in a close game.
“I just think he was tired. He’s been our horse through the playoffs. Even though he only threw 30 pitches last night, he was physically and mentally tired.”
Calahan did as well as could be expected against two-legged assassins.
“He didn’t pitch as well as he did against Midway,” Taylor said. “What we needed was for him to throw at the knees and spot up inside and outside like he did a week ago.
“But this was a great learning lesson for him. He’s only been pitching for two years.”
Was there anything else the Yellow Jackets could have done to get to Jovan Hernandez?
“Well, I don’t think we were aggressive enough early in the count sometimes, especially in the first three innings,” Taylor said. “ He throws a lot of strikes, and the only way to get him to not throw a lot of strikes is to pound some of those fastballs that are knee-high.
“We kept waiting for him to make a mistake, and he didn’t make very many.”
As though the Hawks needed any extra stimulation Friday night, they had two years worth stored up for just such a moment.
On their way to what many thought would be a state championship two years ago, and in the midst of a long winning streak, the Hawks were derailed once by Cleburne in a best-of-3 playoff series.
Though the Hawks won the series, they were swept the next week by Waco Midway. They remembered.
‘I think they probably did,” Taylor said, “and they’ve got a really good team.”
The Yellow Jackets took a 1-0 lead in the second on Conner Martyniuk’s single and stolen base and two ground outs. Tyler Fowler’s scored Martyniuk from third.
The Hawks tied it in the second on Timbo Duncan’s RBI single. After the home run made it 3-1, the Hawks scored twice in the fifth on a two-run double by Russell Hughes.
The lead went to 7-1 in the fifth. Grayson Lewis singled with two outs to score Boswell and Jake Bledsoe.
Cleburne never really threatened after the fourth. Walls got as far as second in the third, and Fowler reached second the next inning.
The Yellow Jackets had the kind of season almost any team would take … with the obvious exception of Heath.
“In a lot of ways, these guys overachieved,” Taylor said. “A lot of them met their potential. That’s always what you’re after. No. 1, you want to come together as a team and No. 2 as individuals, to have them improve their games and their understanding of what’s going on.”
The Yellow Jackets can only be optimistic about their fortunes in 2013. Their last three opponents — Midway, Lake Travis and Heath — will all be 5A.
“We need to develop that No. 2 and No. 3 pitcher,” Taylor said. “Obviously, Cash is going to have to become that No. 1 guy. Tyler Fowler will take up a lot of the slack. And it will depend on what kind of improvement some of these other guys make between now and next year.
“We’ll be competitive. We’ll have five starters back. We’ve got some really good young hitters.”
The Yellow Jackets had to come a million miles this season.
“If people had looked at us about the third week of the season, they wouldn’t have given us a snowball’s chance in you know what,” Taylor said. “But we came together as a team, and it’s always exciting to see that happen, to see kids buy in and put the team ahead of themselves.”
ROUND ROCK — It wasn’t so much what the Yellow Jackets didn’t do Friday night.
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