Indians hold winning hand in bi-district playoff sweep
Pair of strong pitching performances carry WHS into area round
The Waxahachie Indians will go as far into the Class 6A baseball playoffs as their pair of aces will carry them.
Behind back-to-back strong pitching performances from Casey Kelly and Jared Thomas, the Indians dispatched Killeen Harker Heights over the weekend, sweeping their 6A Region II bi-district series.
Kelly started it off with a 4-2 victory in Friday’s Game 1 at Harker Heights, pitching six solid innings and striking out 10. The scene shifted to Richards Park for Game 2 on Saturday, and Thomas slammed the door shut on the Knights with a one-hit complete-game shutout as the Tribe won, 4-0.
The Indians (24-8) only managed three hits of their own in Game 2, but made them count. Xavien Thompson homered to hit for the cycle in the series, while Kelly doubled and scored and Joel Jurkash singled for the third hit. WHS also went 6-of-6 on stolen base attempts, with Thomas stealing three of them himself.
That was all Thomas needed as the junior lefty struck out eight on the day, walking two. Thomas threw 108 pitches in going the distance. The Knights’ only hit occurred with one out in the first inning and was erased by a double play.
Thompson led off the game for the Indians with a line-drive homer to centerfield, giving them a quick 1-0 lead. In the third, they made it 3-0 as Anthony Mata scored Thompson on a groundout and Thomas scored on a wild pitch.
The final WHS run was recorded in the fifth with runners on the corners when Thompson was picked off at first and, meanwhile, Kelly stole home.
In Friday’s road opener, the game was knotted at 2-all in the top of the sixth when Jaxson Crow looped a single into center, scoring Thomas, who had led off the half-inning with a double. The Indians tacked on one more run for good measure in the seventh as Thompson doubled to right, scoring Lucas Ferguson from first.
Mata pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the save after Kelly approached his pitch count limit to end the sixth. Harker Heights (18-14-1) was threatening to tie the game with runners on second and third, but Mata ended the game on a swinging strikeout.
Thompson was 3-for-4 with a double, a triple, an RBI and a run scored to pace the Indians at the plate. Thompson once again started the Tribe off right with a triple in the first, scoring on a double play.
The score went to 2-0 in the third as Kelly reached on an error and touched home after a Jacob Cruz sac fly.
The only real trouble Kelly faced on the mound was in the bottom of the fourth as Heights tied the game with two runs, the second coming in on a passed ball. But the senior starboard-sider righted the ship and recorded three outs in a row to limit the damage.
Looking to reach the region quarterfinal round for the first time since 2017, the Indians will face the Wylie Pirates in a best-of-three series that begins Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Royse City. The Pirates swept Mesquite Horn last weekend.
Game 2 is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Duncanville, with Game 3 returning to Royse City on Saturday at 1 p.m. if necessary. The series winner will face either Rockwall or Waco Midway.