Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Sports

March 29, 2014

Cleburne tops Everman, 13-3, as teams combine for 14 errors

EVERMAN — The Cleburne Yellow Jackets improved to 6-0 in District 8-4A play with a 13-3 win in six innings over Everman on Friday night.

Despite committing six errors, the Jackets received solid contributions from all around, including a solid outing from senior pitcher Daniel Richardson.

Richardson struck out 11 of the 24 batters he faced in five innings pitched while allowing three base hits and zero walks. The two runs given up by Richardson were both unearned.

“He did alright. If we played some defense, he gets out of that pretty clean,” Cleburne Coach Ross Taylor said. “That’s been the story of his season. His ERA is not very high but his runs given up is pretty high. He’s not going to overpower every body so people are going to put the ball in play, and you’ve got to clean it up a little bit [defensively] for him to survive.”

The Jackets scored three runs in the first and second innings and one run in the third to build a 7-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third.

After Richardson recorded three consecutive strikeouts dating back to the second inning, three of the next four Bulldogs reached base on a single and two runs scored via two Cleburne errors as Everman pulled to within 7-2.

The Jackets responded with two runs in the fourth as Richardson recorded a groundout RBI and Logan Runyon singled in a run to put Cleburne on top 9-2.

After a 1-2-3 inning from Richardson, Cleburne plated three runs in the fifth inning to take a 12-2 lead.

Jacob Martin drove in Garrett Buckner on an RBI single and Dylan Schneider brought Stevan Martinez in to score on a sacrifice fly.

Cleburne entered the bottom of the fifth inning three outs away from a 5-inning run-rule victory, but the Bulldogs managed to get a run on the board without recording a base hit as Cleburne committed two more errors, and the game was extended.

But it wasn’t extended long as the Jacket offense — led by two reserves — got back to work.

With two outs, Cody Logan got on base on a loud double. Wil Spurgeon followed Logan with an RBI triple, and the Jackets had rebuilt the 10-run lead.

“I was glad to see that,” Taylor said. “Cody Logan’s a guy we think can play. He takes great batting practice rounds. We’ve been trying to work him in, but defensively he’s got to be better for us to play him more. But he swings it nice and he’s got a good body, good frame. He didn’t even square that ball up — if he squares it up, he’s out. It’s nice to see Wil come back ... and he crushed that ball. It sounded good off the bat. It was nice to see that.”

Martin came on to pitch the bottom of the sixth inning and he struck out the side to wrap the game up.

Five of the Jackets’ first six runs came on two-out hits by Tyler Anderson and Richardson.

“It’s always big [getting two-out hits],” Taylor said. “That’s been our philosophy for a long time — throw strikes, make plays and get a two-out hit, and you win games. The teams that get two-out hits win a lot of games and the teams that don’t get two-out hits don’t win. That’s just baseball. It’s something we address pretty regularly. We spent a lot of time this week on approaches and understanding things like what to do with the infield up and with the infield back.”

Martinez went 2-for-2 with a triple and four runs scored. Anderson went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Buckner was 1-for-5 with two RBIs. Martin went 1-for-2 with two runs scored and an RBI. Richardson was 1-for-4 with three RBIs.

Despite the win, the Jackets had their issues as the two teams combined for 14 errors. Everman had eight errors on the night and the Jackets uncharacteristically had six errors.

“It’s windy, it’s cold, it’s wet, but it was sloppy,” Taylor said. “It was a sloppy ball game.”

While part of the defensive miscues can be attributed to the field conditions, another part of it may be due to players playing in unfamiliar positions due to Tyler Fowler’s injury.

“We’ve tried Buckner at short and Dylan at third and that wasn’t real clean so we thought we’d flip it and that wasn’t real clean,” Taylor said. “It’s going to get better when we get Tyler back just because we know that when he’s not pitching, eventually he’s going to be at shortstop. And that’s going to clean us up and allow us to move Buckner back to the outfield. It’ll be good for us [when Fowler comes back] because I think we’ll be settled back in. I don’t think anybody’s saying we can’t win without Tyler, but we all know that’s going to solidify us.”

Despite the Jackets’ nine-game winning streak, 18-3 record and No. 8 ranking in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association state poll, Taylor said the team this season has been a work-in-progress and they haven’t reached their potential just yet.

“I just think we need to play defense the way we’re capable of playing and keep swinging the bat,” he said. “We can put pressure on people from the top to the bottom of the order. That side of it’s good, but if we all get going in the same direction, we’re going to be dangerous. We might have the reemergence of somebody Tuesday night and I think that’s going to settle us down considerably when we get Tyler Fowler back and we know our rotation. On the other side of the coin, it’s going to put some pressure on some other people to step up and perform at the plate because now we’re finding we have some other guys who can swing it.

“I don’t think that we’re anywhere close to peaking.”

The Jackets close out the first round of league play at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Waco University.

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