ROCKWALL – For the first time in eight playoff games the Waxahachie Indians were outpitched as Rockwall-Heath’s Jake Thompson stole the show Thursday in game one of the best-of-three Class 4A Region II semifinals at the Hawks Nest at Heath High School.
“He was really good. That was probably as good as I have seen this year,” Waxahachie head coach Tracy Wood said. “Everything he threw was for strikes and he was painting it. Sometimes you just go ‘you are better than me’ and that is what it was tonight.”
Thompson allowed a one-out single to Seth Sims in the top of the first and walked Kyle McLeroy before settling in and retiring the next 15 Indians in a row while the Heath offense went to work.
A three-run home run by Jovan Hernandez off Waxahachie starter Nick Moore in the first inning gave Heath, ranked No. 9 in Class 4A, a 3-0 lead before the Hawks added four more in the second with three coming on a home run to center off the bat of Thompson.
Heath (34-6-1) added two in the third off Waxahachie reliever Michael Bosch before neither team got a man to third the rest of the game.
“Nick did not have his best night but the bottom line to this is that’s why you play three. What we have got to do is think about going and winning one ball game. We need to take things one at a time. I like going home for the next two. We will be all right. We just have to reload and get back on the horse,” Wood said.
The series shifts to historic Richards Park for game two Saturday as Kyle McLeroy will take the mound for the Indians and is likely to be opposed by Hernandez. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. while a game three would be played 30 minutes after the conclusion of game two if needed.
Thursday’s loss marked the first loss for Moore since the April 30 playoff seeding game against Red Oak where the Indians fell 1-0 on a solo home run.
Moore kept hitters off balance with his assortment of offspeed pitches his first three playoff appearances posting a 3-0 record with 15 strike outs, three complete games and an ERA of less than 1.00.
Heath knew what to expect Thursday and stayed back on Moore’s pitches and recorded seven hits against the senior southpaw while forcing Moore to throw 50 pitches in two innings, 27 for strikes.
Thompson needed just 87 pitches to get through six innings against Waxahachie. He allowed one hit, walked one and struck out 10 before hitting Bosch in the top of the sixth to break his streak of retired batters at 15.
Out of gas after the sixth Thompson was replaced by Caleb Copley as the Indians attempted a rally with two away.
Making his first plate appearance after taking over on the mound in the bottom of the fifth, Waxahachie’s Andrew Smith singled on a chopper to third before third baseman Cody Brown followed suit.
With two on and two away catcher Chase Rudolph crushed a ball to deep center but it was hauled in on a leaping catch to end the Waxahachie threat.
Heath out hit the Indians 10-3 becoming the second team in the playoffs to reach double digits in hits against Waxahachie pitching as Pflugerville Hendrickson had 12 hits in a 5-4 loss to open the playoffs.
There will be additional seating Saturday at Richards Park to accommodate the expected large crowd as fans are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to set along the foul lines. Oma’s Jiffy Burger will be passing out Buy 1, Get 1 Free coupons to the fans attending the game.
McLeroy will look to silence the Heath bats and keep his playoff dominance alive. The senior no-hit Hallsville Saturday coming off a one-hitter against Sherman the previous Saturday.
Winner of the Waxahachie series will play the winner of tonight’s one-game playoff between No. 8 Mesquite Poteet and No. 3 Frisco Wakeland. The battle of the state’s top Class 4A teams will be at 8 p.m. at Colleyville Heritage High School.