Cowboys advance to next round with 3-2 win over Irving Nimitz

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By Alex Nicoll

Staff Writer

It is not everyday people see a coach starting an inexperienced sophomore pitcher in a playoff elimination game, but coach Kendall Clark’s plan to attack them hard paid off as the Cowboys advanced to the next round of the Class 5A state playoffs after beating the Irving Nimitz Vikings 3-2.

“The book on [Nimitz] is that if you have a guy that can throw hard, you can get them out, and he is the last guy on the staff that legitimately throws hard,” Clark said. “[Sophomore pitcher Charles King] has thrown as hard as 93 mph this year, so we went with what everybody said which was if you can throw hard you can get them.”

A few early mistakes to start off the game by the Cowboys let Nimitz go up 2-0 in the first inning. A single and a wild pitch by sophomore pitcher Charles King sent two Nimitz players home.

“After the first inning, I was a little fazed,” King said. “I hadn’t thrown a shutout inning the whole year, so I knew I needed to trust myself and to trust that I would throw strikes.

Neither team managed to gain any runs in the second, however a stall in play foreshadowed a night filled with coaches from either teams arguing calls. Nimitz junior pitcher Braden Williams called the home base umpire to the mound to discuss a mysterious substance on a Coppell batter’s hand.

It was later determined that the substance was tape, which according to UIL rules is illegal to use unless it’s for medicinal purposes and is not white or tan or in other words clearly visible. This was just the first of several attempts by the Vikings to argue controversial calls and likewise for the Cowboys.

In fact, arguing a call cost them an opportunity at the plate.

Coppell struck in the bottom of the third to tie the game up at 2-2 apiece. Sophomore third baseman TY manning started off the inning with a single through the third base gap and was followed by a double from senior catcher Cal Hernandez. An RBI single from sophomore outfielder Shane Steiger sent Manning home, while junior Daniel Jones’ follow up RBI single allowed Hernandez to score.

On the next at-bat, sophomore outfielder Myles Paschall laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners over. Following the bunt, Steiger attempted to come home but was called out on a controversial call at the plate. Clark went out to argue, and the umpire apparently never called time.

“I was going up to argue the [first] play at the plate,” Clark said. “They didn’t tag [Steiger]. I saw daylight between him and the catcher, so I went down to argue the call, then the runner that hit the ball took off to second and [Nimitz] threw it to the base. [Jones] just took off to home while I was still arguing and trying to get play stopped so I could argue the call.”

This allowed the runner on first to take off to second with Jones on third at this point. Jones attempted to reach home plate but was thrown out to end the inning on a double play and erasing a chance to tack on extra runs.

The Cowboys almost struck again in the bottom of the fourth but left the bases full to end the inning.

In the top of the fifth, Williams reached base on a walk and made his way to third off of two passed balls by Hernandez. At this time senior pitcher Drew Hanson came in to relieve King.

“Hanson told us he could throw two innings tonight before we came over here, and he is quality,” Clark said. “He doesn’t necessarily have to throw 90 mph, because he is tough to hit. That was the plan coming in to get 5 [innings] and then 2 [innings].”

King pitched into the fifth inning with six strikeouts and six walks in a no-decision game.

After getting the next batter out, Hanson walked centerfielder Josh Ragan. Ragan stole second to put two runners in scoring position for the Vikings. The next at-bat resulted in a strikeout which eased the pressure some.

In reminiscence of game one of the series Williams attempted to steal home but was blocked at the plate by Hernandez. The Cowboys got out of the inning without giving up a run.

Coppell broke the tie in the bottom of the sixth inning, when senior designated hitter Ric Dickens, who came on to pinch-run for first baseman Hayden Kettler, scored of Manning’s sacrifice fly to put the Cowboys up 3-2.

Hanson made quick work of the seventh inning, allowing only one hit in four at-bats for Nimitz.

“Most times when it goes to three games, you have to play till the last out,” Clark said. “You have to make a play when its there and we just got a deep enough fly ball to score.”

The Cowboys will face the Mansfield Tigers in the second round of the playoffs at locations to be determined.

“I get another week with my boys,” King said. “It is going to be awesome playing with them next week against Mansfield.”