Rockwall-Heath won a three-game battle for Rockwall ISD supremacy before huge crowds at Dallas Baptist University to earn its second berth in the state baseball tournament.
The Hawks rebounded from an 8-1 loss in game one of the Region II-6A finals with victories of 11-4 and 11-3 in games two and three over the Rockwall Yellowjackets to secure a spot in the state baseball tournament.
The two teams battled in front of many orange-clad and red-and-black-dressed fans for each game at Dallas Baptist’s Horner Ballpark, which lists a capacity of 2,000 fans. The Rockwall County fans packed the stands behind home plate and stood up next to the brick walls alongside both foul lines.
The Hawks, now 36-11-1 for the season, are to face 35-5 Smithson Valley in the 6A semifinals at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock. The winner advances to the 4 p.m. state championship game on Saturday, also at Dell Diamond, against the winner of the other semifinal between 35-7 Keller and 27-12-1 Houston Strake Jesuit College Prep. The other semifinal is planned for 4 p.m. Friday.
All state tournament games are weather permitting, of course. Weather forecasts are calling for partly cloudy skies on Friday and Saturday in Round Rock with highs in the 90s both days.
“In a three-game series, it’s all about how the team responds to a loss,” Hawk coach Gregory Harvey told the Dallas Morning News after the 8-1 loss.
Jacket pitchers Daniel Cunningham and Charlie Giese combined to limit the Hawks to only one run in the opening game of the series.
Tate Sloan swung the big bat for Rockwall in game one with four runs batted in.
Rockwall pitchers experienced control problems in game two as coach Barry Rose went deep into the lineup, pitching Cade Crossland, Tag Pacot, Corey Morris, Landon Seutter and Jake Hoofnagle. The five Jackets combined on giving up nine walks and three hit batters. Hawk designated hitter Caleb Hoover was hit twice with pitches in that game.
Meanwhile, Harvey needed only one pitcher for game two for the Hawks: Baylor Baumann. Baumann pitched all seven innings, giving up six hits, four earned runs and three walks while fanning two.
Catcher Kevin Bazzell drove in three runs to lead the Hawk hitters.
Andrew Tellia drove in two runs for Rockwall in game two with a triple. Cole Dillon drove in another run in the seventh with a sacrifice fly.
Jonny Lowe and Kaston Mason also drove in runs for the Hawks in game two.
Heath needed only two pitchers to complete game three: Josh Hoover and Caden Fiveash. Hoover gave up seven hits in four innings and Fiveash allowed only three hits in three innings.
Mason and Jett Williams homered for Heath in that game and Barrett Riebock homered for the Jackets, who finished the season at 31-13-1, going 3-3 against the Hawks.
Heath made its first appearance at the state tournament in 2012 really count. The Hawks blasted Cleburne 10-1 in the finals of the 4A (now 5A) division. Jovan Hernandez struck out five for the Hawks and drove in a team-high three runs, slugging a home run.
Smithson Valley will be making its third appearance in the state tournament. The Rangers also advanced to state in 2001 and 2005. The Rangers lost 5-2 to Rockwall in the 5A semifinals in 2005. That Rockwall team lost 10-5 to Humble Kingwood in the finals.
Smithson Valley lost 7-5 to Fort Worth Western Hills in the 4A state semifinals in 2001.
The 2021 Smithson Valley team, led by pitchers Brandon Taylor (14-0) and Tim Arguello (11-1), has gone 9-1 in the playoffs with victories over Northside Brandeis, Round Rock Westwood, San Antonio Reagan, Eagle Pass and Los Fresnos.
Junior outfielder Dylan Domel and freshman first baseman M.J. Espinosa lead the Rangers with .500 batting averages.
Class 6A baseball playoffs
Rockwall-Heath 14, Rowlett 4
Rockwall-Heath 7, Rowlett 0
Rockwall-Heath 5, Mansfield 2
Rockwall-Heath 8, Mansfield 4
Sachse 4, Rockwall-Heath 2
Rockwall-Heath 5, Sachse 0
Rockwall-Heath 10, Sachse 0
Rockwall-Heath 8, Tomball 0
Tomball 7, Rockwall-Heath 3
Rockwall-Heath 3, Tomball 2
Rockwall 8, Rockwall-Heath 1
Rockwall-Heath 11, Rockwall 4
Rockwall-Heath 11, Rockwall 3
Rockwall-Heath vs. Smithson Valley, 7 p.m. Friday, Dell Diamond, Round Rock.