Trent Morrison's eighth complete game in his last nine starts may have been the most dominant performance of the senior's pitching career.
And it just might have made this Stephenville team the best in school history.
Morrison shut out District 5-4A champ Aledo, allowing no runs on just three hits while striking out 13 without issuing a walk as Stephenville won 5-0 to claim its second area championship in school history at Tarleton State's Cecil Ballow Baseball Complex Saturday afternoon.
"All my pitches were working," said Morrison, who recorded the second highest strikeout total of his career on just 86 pitches including 63 strikes. "I'm confident every time I go out there, but today I was throwing everything for strikes."
Second-year Stephenville head coach James Boxley called it Morrison's finest hour.
"Trent's stuff was the best it's ever been," said Boxley. "All his pitches were working and he never really got into any trouble. He threw strikes and was efficient, even more so than he's been all year."
The Yellow Jackets move on to face Cleburne in the regional quarterfinals. Details were still being finalized at the time of this report.
The Jackets jumped on top early with a run that was earned but aided by an Aledo error in the top of the first, then they put it away with an unearned run in the fourth and three more unearned scores in the sixth.
Senior leadoff hitter and second baseman Brian Picha reached on the first of his three walks in the top of the first, then advanced to third when junior center fielder Witt Westbrook laid a bunt single down the third base line and the throw to first got away into right field.
Tyler Floyd followed with an RBI on a sac fly to center as Picha tagged and scored the only run Morrison would need.
Stephenville didn't have a baserunner in the fourth until there were two outs, but sophomore right fielder Mookie Carlile reached on an error before three straight walks brought him in for a 2-0 Yellow Jacket lead.
The sixth was a fielding nightmare for Aledo, beginning with an error to Martin aboard with no outs. Picha bunted the freshman to second before the second out, and Tyler Floyd hit into an error to put two aboard.
Morrison helped himself with an RBI single that made it 3-0, then the Jackets poured it on by adding two more runs on wild pitches.
Aledo went through five pitchers, with starter Callaway Kirkpatrick taking the loss.
Morrison finally got into a mini-jam in the seventh, but with a five-run edge the runners at third and first didn't matter. Each reached on weak singles as the Bearcats had no extra base hits.
The ace needed no help finishing the deal, striking out the side including a swing and miss to finish it.
"This team has so much confidence when Trent's on the hill because we know he's always going to put us in a position to win," Boxley said. "Today we had Trent throwing, we had a good crowd and we did what we needed to do."
The teams were set to begin a best-of-three series Friday night, but when Game 1 at Aledo was rained out, the Bearcats agreed to visit Stephenville and play at Tarleton for a single game in exchange for being the official home team.
District 7-4A champ Cleburne advanced with a 7-2 win over Fort Worth Arlington Heights.
Cleburne defeated Stephenville 2-1 in extra innings when the teams met in the Jackets' final pre-district tuneup. Morrison threw a nine-inning complete game and allowed just one earned run, kicking off a string of six straight complete-games by the righty.
The only game he didn't complete during that stretch was a playoff practice contest in which he started and worked two shutout innings.
"We just need to hit and find ways to score runs," said Morrison. "I'm confident whether it's me or whoever pitching we can stop them, we just have to score."
"Our pitching's been there all year, and as long as it's there again we just need some timely base hits," he said.
Stephenville's other area title came in 2009, when the current seniors were freshmen.
"To get there again and to get past that point would mean so much to us and the program," said Floyd, a senior catcher headed to McLennan Community College on a baseball scholarship, earlier this week.
Now they have their shot.
Follow Jacket baseball and Brad Keith on Twitter @etsports