The Cleburne Yellow Jackets finished the 2021 season with a 4-2 win Friday night over Ennis at Midlothian High School.
The Jackets ended the year with an overall record of 23-8 but a 6-6 finish in District 14-5A play left them one game out of a playoff spot in a tough league where Corsicana (8-4), Joshua (8-4), Midlothian (7-5) and Ennis (7-5) finished ahead of Cleburne.
As Cleburne Coach Ross Taylor said the day after the Jackets were eliminated from playoff contention in a 10-0 loss to Joshua on April 27, it had been a long time since Cleburne played in a game that didn’t mean anything. Even the last time Cleburne missed the playoffs in 2016, every game mattered as the Jackets kept playoff hopes alive down the stretch, with their season ending in a tiebreaker game for a playoff berth.
But even though Cleburne entered Friday’s contest against Ennis already out of the playoff picture, the Jackets finished the season strong with a win over the Lions, who were fighting for playoff positioning.
Between four innings from Kam Walton and three innings from Mason Kile, Cleburne held Ennis to only two base hits on the night.
After a scoreless two innings, the Lions took the lead with one run in the third inning on a wild pitch and another run in the fourth inning on a Cleburne error for a 2-0 lead through four innings. Ennis maintained that advantage going into the sixth inning, but that’s where the Jackets made their move.
After two quick outs, Cleburne Kevin Duran hit a triple and Taylor Valerias followed with a hit-by-pitch to put runners on the corners for Walton, who hit an RBI double to score Duran and cut the deficit in half.
Aubrey Whitehead tied the game with an RBI single to score Valerias then Pedro Martinez came through big to finish off the two-out rally with a two-run triple for a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Kile worked around a one-out walk and a two-out single to leave two baserunners stranded.
Walton pitched four no-hit innings with two walks and one earned run allowed with three strikeouts in a no decision. Kile allowed two hits and two runs with two strikeouts in three shutout innings for the win.
Whitehead led Cleburne at the plate with a 1-for-2 effort with one RBI, one walk and one run while Martinez was 1-for-2 with two RBIs. Duran went 1-for-3 with a run while Walton was 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI.