TEXARKANA – After Friday night, the Red Oak baseball team was in good position to advance in the playoffs with a win in the area round opener. Texas High batters Levi Saxby and Caleb Adams made sure that position didn’t last long.
The duo hit back-to-back home runs in the first game of Saturday’s action, keying a 3-1 win to set up the rubber match. In the deciding game, the pair combined to bring home six of the Tigers’ runs in a 10-3 victory.
“Those guys are really good hitters. They’re probably two of the hitters, if not the best hitters, we’ve seen all year,” Red Oak coach Heath Autrey said. “They made us pay for a few mistakes. We had an error and an opportunity to get out of that inning in game two before that kid hit the triple to clear the bases. We just didn’t make the play.”
Red Oak took a 1-0 lead in the first game of the day when Dillon Cartwright brought teammate Robert Elles home in the first inning with a single after Elles started the game with a double. The Tigers tied the game in the bottom half of the frame setting up what appeared to be an offensive showdown.
Instead, both teams limped along to get any consistent offense going aside from Saxby and Adams. The duo blasted home runs in the third inning for the go-ahead and an insurance run to secure the win. Elles, the starting pitcher for the game, lasted all six innings and allowed just four hits with six strikeouts.
That set up the series finale about an hour after the conclusion of the first game. The Hawks turned to Garett Thomas for the start in the finale but eventually utilized a motley crew of arms to try and keep the game in check.
Thomas got the game started by hitting a solo home run, his first career out-of-the-park shot for a 1-0 lead. He also picked up three strikeouts in the first inning as Red Oak started off strong.
It quickly slipped away as the Tigers loaded the bases with a double and two walks in the second inning. Saxby brought the first run of the inning home with a ball to short that was misplayed for an error to extend the inning. Adams made the Hawks pay for that mistake with a triple to right center that cleared the bases and scored three.
Red Oak fell further behind in the fifth inning when Texas High put two more runs on the board. But again Thomas came up and came through with his second solo home run of the game for his first multi-home run game in high school. Alberto Hernandez added another run when he was issued a walk with the bases loaded to cut the lead down to 6-3.
“Obviously I didn’t want it to be my last high school game and I didn’t expect it to be but I just went out there and played my guy and did what I could for the team,” Thomas said.
Despite the trimmed gap, Red Oak couldn’t keep the rally going as the Tigers plated four runs in the bottom half of the sixth to post a 10-3 advantage that would be far too much for the team to overcome.
The Hawks did manage to load the bases in the seventh with a walk and back-to-back singles but the final two batters of the game struck out to end any chance of a comeback.
While the Tigers did score 13 runs on the day, the team only produced eight hits but had runners reach on eight walks, three hit by pitches, two errors and a catcher’s interference.
For the playoffs, the team fell to 0-3 on the road and was left with another unsatisfying end to the season.
“I just think they pitched better than us today. They made pitches when they needed to. We had base runners on and we just couldn’t come through,” Autrey said. “They pitched better than us today and they deserved to win. They played better than us today.”
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