Midlothian Heritage leaned heavily on its pitching staff during a two-game sweep of Palmer on Thursday afternoon.
The Jaguars edged the Bulldogs in game one at the Heritage baseball field, 2-1, and then pounced late in game two for a 15-5 run-rule win.
Heritage improved to 12-3 with the victories, while Palmer fell to 6-4-1.
Heritage head baseball coach Justin Blackwell said the Jaguars played well against a “great Palmer program.”
“I told our guys to be ready to play and I knew that they were going to come out and play hard and they did that,” Blackwell added. “[…] I thought we played well enough to win but we have some things to improve on but, all in all, we will take a couple of wins as we head into district next week.”
The Jaguars pitching staff has allowed just five earned runs over four wins since imploding a bit in a 13-4 loss against Iowa Park during the 4th annual Heritage Classic over the weekend.
The staff has limited both China Spring and Godley to one run and then surrendered six to Palmer (four earned) since the defeat.
Blackwell said he challenged the pitching staff following the loss to Iowa Park to “compete, throw strikes and challenge hitters.”
“Ever since that moment, we have thrown well,” he added. “We will start to nail down who all will be throwing once we get into district when we won’t be playing as many guys. But, I thought our guys did a good job today… I am impressed with our pitchers and, hopefully, we can carry it over to district next week.”
Heritage pitchers Bryce Fuller (3IP, 2K), Travis Belz (3IP, 7K) and Jared Boisvert (1IP, 2K) began Thursday by limiting Palmer to four hits and one earned run in the 2-1 Heritage win. Creed Spenrath (3IP, 5K), Chip King (1.1IP, 3K) and Jared Boisvert (0.2IP, K) then shut the door on the two-game sweep in the late game and 15-5 victory for the Jaguars.
Following the outing, Palmer head baseball coach Joe Robinson tipped his cap to the Heritage club and admitted the Bulldogs saved two key arms for a Friday tilt against Malakoff, which certainly came into play during game two Thursday that saw the Palmer staff issue seven free passes and two unearned runs. Robinson also appreciated the way his 3A ball club battled against a 4A team the caliber of Heritage.
"I thought we played really well in the first game,” Robinson said. “We are having a pretty good year. We are really deep with our pitching staff and have a lot of seniors on the team who have been playing for three years. They work hard every day and have high expectations for themselves."
Palmer is also in a unique situation as far as the district schedule concerns — the Bulldogs have already made the playoffs. Because of being in a four-team district, Palmer still has a little over two weeks before beginning district play, while the vast majority of Texas high school teams have either already began or start next week. The top four teams in each district advance to the postseason.
Robinson laughed and passed along a quick “thank you” after being congratulated on the automatic playoff berth.
"We have a good group that was successful in football and successful in basketball and it is kind of carrying over,” Robinson added. “We also have a bunch of senior leadership that we are going to lean on pretty heavily. I think this is going to be a pretty good year."
A two-run Roc Martinez home run was the difference in game one Thursday afternoon.
The Midlothian Heritage third baseman launched the third-inning blast into centerfield to put the Jaguars on top, 2-0.
The combo of Fuller, Belz and Boisvert then took care of business on the mound to secure the 2-1 victory in the first game of the doubleheader. The trio combined for 11 strikeouts, four hits and just two walks over seven innings. Fuller earned the win for the Jaguars, while Clayton Solomon (5.2IP, 7K, 2R, 2BB) took the hard-luck loss for the Bulldogs.
Solomon also drove in the lone run for the Bulldogs with a sixth-inning sacrifice fly.
Eleven Jaguars record a hit in a 15-5 game-two win Thursday against the visiting Palmer Bulldogs.
Cody Moore supplied the biggest blast with a first-inning two-run home run. Heritage then hung a two-spot in the second, five more in the third and fourth innings and then one in the fifth to complete the run-rule win.
It was a Blake Wilhoite who broke the game open with a two-run, two-strike single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning.
Landon Goerig (2-3, 3B, 2B, BB, R) joined Wilhoite in the three-runs-batted-in department, while Harrison Hess and Cade Sumbler also drove in runs.
Palmer returns to action at noon Friday on the road against Malakoff, while Heritage will open District 17-4A against Alvarado at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
District 17-4A has converted to the “series” format for this season, meaning the Jaguars will face the Indians on the road Tuesday and then at home at 7 p.m. Friday.