CALERA – It’s highly doubtful Calera head coach Rick Teafatiller could have even scripted a scenario in which the Bulldogs smashed their way to the Red River Classic championship.
But that’s exactly how things played out as Calera finished off a dominant run to the tournament title with a 14-6 run-rule triumph over Class A’s fourth-ranked Stonewall on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs, who are ranked seventh in 2A, are now 6-0 on the season and haven’t had a game decided by less than six runs yet.
“It’s nice to come out playing this well early in the season,” Teafatiller commented. “We just have to keep building on it.”
While a pitching staff which had allowed just a single unearned run through the first five games of the season had garnered much of the attention, it was the Calera bats that really put on a display in Saturday’s tournament finale.
Their semifinal nine-hit effort on Friday night was just a tune-up for the barrage put on by the Bulldogs in the win over the Longhorns.
Calera finished with 14 hits, scoring at least once in every inning of the run-rule victory. Five Bulldog batters totaled two or more hits led by James Vazquez’s three-hit performance in the two-hole as they battered Stonewall pitching from 1 through 9 in the lineup.
“If we can hit it like that and play defense we are going to beat a bunch of people,” Teafatiller added. “We made an adjustment to be more aggressive and it seemed to pay off. When the bottom of our batting order can produce like they did it takes the pressure off our guys at the top. They got on base and those guys at the top came up in run-producing situations nearly every time. We got contributions all the way through the order.”
Starting pitcher Chase Hamilton didn’t have his best stuff on the mound but got off to a good start and battled to hold the Longhorn bats at bay until the Calera offense had completely taken control.
He worked out of a two-on and nobody out jam in the second frame with three consecutive strikeouts and then limited the damage to three unearned runs with a pair of strikeouts in the fourth after two Bulldog errors.
Hamilton went the distance in the five-inning effort, scattering six hits with seven strikeouts coupled with three walks.
The Bulldogs set the tone from the start as Cooper Hamilton opened the first inning with a walk, advanced to third on a double from Vazquez and scored on Brayden Langley’s groundout for a 1-0 lead.
They really erupted in the second stanza, cashing in a pair of Stonewall miscues as Vazquez smacked a RBI double and Shawn Harper added a two-run homer in a five-run uprising.
Calera built the cushion to 8-0 in the third as Zach Maynard opened the frame with a double ahead of another Longhorn error and back-to-back singles from Rylan Neal and Cooper Hamilton.
After Stonewall trimmed the margin to 8-3 with three unearned tallies in the fourth, the Bulldogs answered right back as Harper smoked a double to right and then rode home on Langley’s two-run blast over the centerfield wall.
The Longhorns narrowed the gap to 10-6 with three more runs in the top of the fifth before Calera put it away.
Tristen Corbin led off with a double and scored on Cooper Hamilton’s double. Vazquez chipped in another hit and eventually scored on a balk in front of a game-ending two-run single off the bat of Maynard.
Harper, Cooper Hamilton, Luke Weddle and Maynard all had two hits for Calera while Neal, Langley and Corbin each added one.
The Bulldogs put their unbeaten mark on the line Thursday with a 4:30 meeting with Atoka at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
Howe, TX 9, Rock Creek 1 (3rd)
Miscues and missed opportunities early dug Rock Creek too much of a hole to climb out of as the Mustangs fell to the Texans in the tournament third place contest.
Howe cashed in two Rock Creek errors in the opening frame for a 1-0 lead but the Mustangs watched scoring chances squelched by an inning-end double play in the bottom of the first before leaving the bases loaded in the second.
The Bulldogs pushed across two in the third, four in the fourth and two more in the fifth to virtually put it away as the only hits Rock Creek managed during that span were singles by Davis Rogers and Austin Montgomery.
In the bottom of the fifth the Mustangs finally put a run on the board as Josh Eiler doubled and scored on a Christian McGowan single but that proved to be all the offense as Rock Creek ended with four hits.
The Mustangs are slated to visit Colbert today at 4:30 before taking on powerhouses Hartshorne and Oktaha in the Red Oak Festival on Wednesday.
Contact Kevin Farr at 580-634-2161 or [email protected]