Proksch, Herring lead Dragons to shutout sweep of Cowboys

Coppell ends season as Class 6A Region I semifinalist

Meer Mahfuz, Staff Writer


DALLAS- For decades, the deep-rooted rivalry between Coppell and Southlake Carroll has created electric atmospheres and even more intense ball games.

Carroll, a perennial powerhouse, boasts the talent of several Division I recruits and possesses the experience of state champions. Coppell, on the other hand, has sound fundamentals and an efficient style of play with players who step up in big moments. 

However, the talent and experience of Carroll overwhelmed Coppell in the Class 6A Region I semifinals.

Behind shutout gems from senior pitchers Owen Proksch, a Duke signee, and Griffin Herring, a Louisiana State signee, Carroll defeated the Cowboys, 4-0 in Game 1 on Thursday and 6-0 in Game 2 on Friday. Both games were played at Dallas Baptist University’s Horner Ballpark.

Coppell was shutout four times this season: three times at the hand of Carroll and once at the hand of Rockwall.

Coppell (27-9-1) ends its season as Class 6A Region I semifinalists for the second straight season after bowing out to Keller in last year’s regional semifinals while Carroll (30-8) advances to the Class 6A Region I finals for the fifth straight season. Carroll will face the winner of Keller and Marcus.

Game 2: Herring’s 10 strikeouts, four run second inning lifts Carroll to sweep Coppell

Pressure was mounting on the Coppell baseball team in Game 2 of the best-of-three Class 6A Region I semifinals. The 4-0 loss in Game 1 against Southlake Carroll Dragons meant that if the Cowboys lost against the Dragons, this game would be the last of the season. 

If the Cowboys won, however, they would play a Game 3. 

But the pressure was not the only changing factor on the mound.

“Southlake’s a tough team,” Coppell coach Ryan Howard said. “They won back-to-back state championships for a reason. They’re well coached. They have a high level of talent, but we fought them as hard as we could fight them.”

Herring took to pitching in Game 2, replacing Proksch who pitched in Game 1. It was Herring’s three-hitter and the Dragon’s early lead on the game that downed Coppell, 6-0, on Friday at Dallas Baptist University’s Horner Ballpark. 

Proksch scored the first run of the night on a fielding error on senior left fielder Max Reyes’ ground ball to shortstop in the first inning. In the bottom of the first, Griffin retired the Cowboys in order with three strikeouts. 

The second inning was where the Dragons extended their lead. 

With bases loaded and one out, Proksch walked and junior designated hitter Tyler White scored. Senior third baseman Cole Bedwell scored on a sacrifice fly ball from junior shortstop Ethan Mendoza. 

Coppell junior ace TJ Pompey came off after Bedwell’s run and senior reliever Will Boylan came on in his place.

Carroll junior second baseman Ben Tryon singled on a hard ground ball to right field, scoring Proksch and senior right fielder Tyson Drake. 

In two innings, the Dragons had built an insurmountable 5-0 lead.

“I wish we could have played a little bit better baseball this week,” Howard said. “But, there’s only one team that gets to stand at the end. They deserved it so credit to them.”

The Dragons tacked on the sixth and final run of the night as White singled on a line drive to center field to score senior first baseman Nick Jones.

Although the Cowboys were unable to score any runs in their game against the Dragons, they did get close. 

The Cowboys loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fifth but senior right fielder Andrew Nester grounded out to work Griffin out of the jam.

Griffin lasted six innings, surrendering three hits (none before the fifth inning), walking three and striking out ten. White finished the game for Griffin, allowing one hit and striking out one.

Pompey lasted 1.2 innings while Boylan lasted 5.1 innings. The two combined to surrender six runs on six hits. Pompey walked five while Boylan walked one. Boylan had four strikeouts. 

Tryon led the Dragons on the deck, going 2-3 with two RBIs. Proksch scored two runs of the six runs for Carroll.

This game for the Cowboys would be the last at the high school level for many seniors. The heartwarming embrace of the players at the end of the game was a touching depiction of that. 

“It was definitely heartfelt,” Howard said. “These seniors have been playing with each other for a long time. They’ve been a great class and led this class very well for us.”

Game 1: Proksch’s 11 strikeouts disables Coppell, propels Dragons to victory

When news went out that Coppell and Southlake Carroll would face each other in the fourth round of the Class 6A playoffs, there was a feeling that the clash would be the series of the round across the state.

Highlighted by the Cowboys who play a simple and fundamental style of play clashing against Carroll’s flare of one of the best one-two punch pitchers and a fiery offense, the series was to be the clash of two of the best teams in the state.

Game 1 of the Class 6A Region I semifinals started as two equal teams but the Dragons scratched across runs throughout the game to defeat Coppell, 4-0, on Thursday.

Carroll started things off in the bottom of the first as Mendoza, an Arizona State commit, singled on a ground ball to third base with one out. One out later and Tryon, a Dallas Baptist commit, drove in Mendoza off an RBI double on a line drive to right field.

Carroll continued in the third by loading the bases with no outs as Proksch singled on a hard ground ball to right field, Mendoza singled on a hard ground ball to left field and Reyes singled on a line drive to right field.

Tryon’s sacrifice fly allowed senior courtesy runner Brady Miller (in for Proksch) to score. Jones also sacrificed with a fly out to score Mendoza to give Carroll a three run lead. 

“I missed a couple of spots and they took advantage of them,” Nester said.

In the fifth, Mendoza was hit by a pitch and, one out later, Tryon drove him in with an RBI single on a hard ground ball to right field, increasing Carroll’s lead to four runs. 

Proksch, a Duke signee, got the bump on the mound and threw a complete game shutout gem with 11 strikeouts and three hits allowed. 

“He’s just a talented arm; he’s a leftie that throws a hard fastball and a slider that works off of it,” Howard said. “His pitches are tough to pick out and he commands both of them really well and he’s a Division I pitcher for a reason.”

Carroll scattered eight hits with Mendoza, Tryon and Bedwell all collected two hits. Tryon also had three RBIs to round out a strong offensive performance from him. 

Nester lasted four innings for the Cowboys, surrendering three earned runs on seven hits and striking out two. Junior reliever Andrew Schultz threw two innings, surrendering one run on one hit, walking one and striking out one. 

“They were tough kids, threw a lot of strikes, challenged them and that’s what they’ve done all year,” Howard said. “At this point, it comes down to a few at-bats and it comes down to executing, and they were able to execute tonight while we weren’t but that’s why it’s a three game series.”

Nester, senior left fielder Carter Fields and Pompey each had a hit for Coppell.

“What we were missing were the big hits when we were in scoring position,” Howard said. “We didn’t give ourselves many opportunities to hit in scoring positions but we didn’t come up with that big hit tonight. And they did and that’s the difference in the game.”

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