Mother Nature placed a veil over the Yellow Jackets and Graford Saturday as tornadoes, rain and thunderstorms ripped through the surrounding area, but that wasn't enough to stop the Yellow Jackets 8-2 onslaught of Burkburnett in the bi-district round of the 4A Region 1 Texas state baseball playoffs.
Stephenville got off to a quick start in the first inning as Ben Martin took a leadoff walk and gave the Jackets a 1-0 lead when he later scored on a passed ball.
The scoring continued in the second for Stephenville as Burkburnett struggled to find the strike zone. The inaccuracy of the Bulldog pitchers resulted in Alex Jimenez driving in a run after being hit by a pitch, then Brock Morrison drawing a walk to bring in the Jackets third run.
The highlight of the day came in the third inning as Sam Weber drew a walk which brought up Stephenville right fielder Kaegun Williams. Williams drove into a pitch and launched a deep line drive that went over the left field wall for a home run extending the Jackets lead to 5-0.
But Burkburnett refused to roll over. In the bottom of the third, the Bulldogs finally got on the board thanks to back-to-back doubles. They loaded the bases with no outs, but could only muster a one-run scoring single following a pop out and then hitting into an inning ending double play.
The Jackets later tacked on runs in the fourth and sixth innings to put the Bulldogs' hopes of a comeback to sleep.
Stephenville’s ace pitcher Maddux Conger got the start for the Jackets, his first in several weeks due to injury, and pitched a complete game and posted 10 strikeouts.
“The guys as a team definitely showed up today focused and ready to play,” said Stephenville Head Coach James Boxley. “Maddux hadn’t pitched in a few weeks and he certainly showed up today and did a great job. He was facing a little bit of fatigue but he did well and he put in a gutsy performance.”
The playoff series with Burkburnett wasn’t your typical postseason series. The teams were scheduled to play a three-game series, but ended up having to play one game after severe weather in the area Friday night cancelled game one.
The three game series couldn’t be played all on Saturday due to UIL rules only allowing teams to play two games in one day.
With the bi-district victory, the Jackets are now playing the waiting game. They are scheduled to play the winner of the Springtown and Venus series, but weather has pushed their game to Monday.
When asked about the possibility of playing one of the two teams, Boxley had a simple message.
“We’re ready to play anybody.”