May 26, 2007

Winning Pitcher: Evan Blakeley (8-1), Highland Park High School, Dallas, Texas.

Highland Park - 12; Brownwood - 0.

"Lions' season ends on run rule," Jared Fields, Special [Editor] to the Abilene Reporter-News, Headline and Copy Editor: Troy Shockley, Sunday, May 27, 2007

In the wild, lions stay in the group, or pride, whereas tigers are solitary animals. And in the Region II-4A baseball semifinals Saturday night, the winner-take-all game between the big cat mascots played out much like in the wild.

Highland Park's Evan Blakeley led the Tigers to a 12-0 win over the Brownwood Lions with 10 strikeouts and only two hits allowed at ACU's Crutcher Scott Field.

As a pride, the Lions never got going and couldn't keep up with Highland Park (33-9).

''We didn't get the hits. Our bats didn't come along with us,'' Brownwood coach Scotty Nichols said. ''We're looking forward to next year, but it hurts to lose this one.''

The game was moved to ACU just before noon Saturday when rain forced the teams to move the series from Weatherford. The matchup was scheduled to be a best-of-three series, but was shortened to one game because of the weather.

''We were already there and had to drive back,'' Nichols said.

Blakeley allowed a runner past first base just twice and of the first 10 outs of the game, eight of them came on strikeouts.

''His fastball wasn't overpowering,'' Nichols said. ''His curve ball and changeup had some movement and made his fastball look faster.''

Brownwood starting pitcher Shelby Miller matched Blakeley through 2 2/3 innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts, but started letting things get away from him after that.

In the third, Miller loaded the bases for cleanup hitter Will Russell, who capitalized on the opportunity with a single up the middle to drive in the first two runners of the game.

Highland Park struck again in the fourth and again with the bases loaded. Miller allowed three singles in a row, filling the bases for the leadoff hitter, Hainsfurther, who drove a 2-2 fastball to left field, scoring a pair.

Miller walked Nick Flabiano after Hainsfurther's two RBI single, loading the bases again, this time for center fielder Dutch Crews. Miller walked Crews on four pitches, scoring a run and loading the bases for Russell once more.

Like his previous at bat with the bases loaded, Russell capitalized. The left fielder cleared the bases with a double to right-center.

Russell's double brought about the first pitching change for the Lions, who brought in left-handed Garrett Goodwin. Goodwin did his job and got the Lions out of the inning but, despite Goodwin's efforts, the damage was already done.

Highland Park batted around, scoring six runs on five hits to put the Tigers up 8-0 after the top of the fourth. With Blakeley's pitching, Brownwood (22-12) would have a difficult time salvaging the fourth-inning wreck.

The Tigers added to their lead in the fifth when, after two walks, Hainsfurther drove in a run with a single that got by a diving Mason Ellis in left field.

After a walk to load the bases, Nichols made his second pitching change, bringing in Ellis, who started the game at short stop and played some in left field after the first pitching change, to face Dutch Crews.

Repeating what the Lions had seen all night, Crews lined the ball over the right fielder's head for a three RBI triple to bring the score to 12-0.

In the bottom of the fifth, trying to avoid the run rule, Brownwood put two runners on base but, with two outs, Blakeley got leadoff hitter Tanner Vaughn to groundout to first to end the game after five innings.

Highland Park 12, Brownwood 0

Highland Park 002 64 -12 10 0

Brownwood 000 00 -0 2 1

Evan Blakeley and Andrew Scates. Shelby Miller, Garrett Goodwin (4), Mason Ellis (5) and Chase Holmes. W - Blakeley. L - Miller. 2B - HP: Will Russell. 3B - HP: Dutch Crews.

Records - Highland Park 33-9, Brownwood 22-12.