RED OAK – There was a sort of melancholy feel in the Red Oak dugout following Friday’s regular season finale against Lancaster.
The Hawks posted a third-straight game with nine-plus runs en route to an easy 20-1 win over the Tigers. With the victory, the team clinched a share of second-place in the District 15-4A standings.
The key word being “share.”
Thanks to Waxahachie’s upset of district champion Mesquite Poteet, the Hawks, Indians and Jackrabbits of Forney had to play a three-team tournament on Saturday for seeding in the upcoming bi-district round of the playoffs.
Red Oak lost a coin flip between the teams meaning the Hawks played Waxahachie at noon on Saturday with the winner of that game playing Forney immediately afterwards. Details of where the teams will be seeded will be in Monday’s edition of the Daily Light.
First things were first on Friday – beating the Tigers.
“It was big to get the 20th win. We’ve had to stay focused out there. You know the game wasn’t the biggest game ever but it was our 20th win and that was our goal from the start,” senior Garrett Anthony said.
With the win, Red Oak did improve to 20-11 overall for the season and 11-5 in district marking the third-straight season the Hawks have finished with 20-plus wins. It also extended the team’s win streak to five games.
“That was one of our goals at the beginning of the year and we try to stress to them just to play our best baseball because it’s not really the wins and losses it’s really more of playing our best baseball and knowing we have a chance to win,” coach Heath Autrey said.
Red Oak wasted no time in putting Lancaster away as a two RBI single by Dillon Cartwright opened up a 3-0 lead in the first inning and sparked the senior catcher to a huge night offensively. Anthony’s two-run double later in the inning made it a 5-0 game as the Hawks batted around before recording their second out.
With two out and two on, Cartwright stepped back into the batter’s box and sent his second single of the inning into the outfield for another two RBI and a 10-0 advantage. Red Oak gave up a run in the second inning on a walk and several wild pitches but responded by scoring three in the bottom half of the frame, two of which came off a double by Garrett Thomas.
The third inning was the final burst of offense as six walks were scattered with two pop-up outs to start the inning. That brought Cartwright back to the plate where he launched a double that plated two more runs for fifth and sixth RBI of the night.
“I felt pretty confident. I was just trying to hit the ball the other way and do what I do in practice,” Cartwright said.
He was followed by pinch hitter Riley Norwood, who made the most of his at-bat with a two-run double to stretch the lead even further at 20-1.
While the bats stayed hot, Red Oak’s pitching got the job done by holding the Tigers hitless for the night with only three base runners on an error, hit-by-pitch and that aforementioned walk. Starter Beau Kirby struck out six in two innings of work while Hunter Gnoza picked up five strikeouts in three innings of work.
Though they’re in the playoffs for sure, Saturday’s games determined just who the Hawks would face in the first-round.
“I feel pretty confident about (Saturday). We’ve got two of our aces starting (potentially),” Cartwright said. “It’s pretty big. We’ve just got to clinch.”
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