CLEBURNE - A two-base throwing error, Cleburne's sixth of the game, gave Stephenville a chance with courtesy runner Jordan Jones at third and no outs in the top of the seventh, but he was caught in a rundown near home plate and Cleburne held on for a 3-2 win at Yellowjacket Field Thursday night.
Cleburne takes a 1-0 series lead to James T. Young Field, where Stephenville must win to keep its season alive when Game 2 is played at 7 tonight. Game 3, if needed, is at noon Saturday at Veterans Stadium in Waco with the winner to face Wichita Falls Rider or Canyon Randall next week.
Senior first baseman Connor Washington led off the seventh with a single to left, and Jordan Jones replaced him on the base paths. Relief pitcher Brach Farmer threw a pickoff move into right field, and Jones sprinted all the way to third with no outs.
But a pitch that missed badly inside and high gave freshman Ben Martin no chance to lay down a suicide squeeze. Cleburne catcher Max Reynolds made a leaping stop then tagged out Jones, who slipped after sprinting most of the way home in anticipation of the squeeze.
A strikeout in the previous at bat and a pop out after the rundown combined to finish it for Cleburne.
Trent Morrison was solid again, going six innings and allowing only two earned runs on four hits while striking out six for Stephenville. He hit one batter with a pitch and issued one intentional walk in his ninth complete game in 10 starts.
But errors - three of them - proved to be Stephenville's undoing. The first came in the bottom of the first but didn't hurt. The two in the bottom of the sixth, however, were crucial.
Cleburne tied the game at 2-2 on a single by German Hernandez, a throwing error and an RBI double by Connor Martiniuk, then made it 3-2 when a fly ball resulted in another error.
Stephenville had just grabbed a 2-1 edge in the top of the sixth when Trent Morrison singled before Jones came in to run and advanced to second on an error. Freshman Brock Morrison's double to right brought him in.
Witt Westbrook had Stephenville's only other extra base hit, an RBI double in the top of the third after Brian Picha reached on an error.
Cleburne opened the scoring in the bottom of the second when a hit batsman advanced to second on a groundout and scored on Reynolds' RBI single to right-center.
German Hernandez matched Morrison for Cleburne, throwing six innings and allowing two runs - one earned - on four hits. He had to work around five Cleburne errors and Farmer had to navigate through the sixth - his own - after replacing the ace with one on and no outs in the seventh.
Follow the series and Brad Keith on Twitter @etsports
4A Reg. I quarterfinal series, Game 1
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Cleburne: Yellowjacket Field
W-German Hernandez 6 IP, 2R, 1ER, 4H, 6K, 0BB
S-Brach Farmer 1 IP, 0R, 0H, 0K, 0BB
L-Trent Morrison 6IP, 3R, 1ER, 4H, 6K, 1BB, 1HBP
Trent Morrison, Connor Washington
Witt Westbrook (RBI), Brock Morrison (RBI)
Max Reynolds (RBI), Tucker Nolan, German Hernandez
Connor Martiniuk (RBI)